Familiar name comes back to new bistro

European decor, paid for by property owner Carl Peterson, gives Couture’s Bistro a special feel.

European decor, paid for by property owner Carl Peterson, gives Couture’s Bistro a special feel.

An Algerian crepe shop owner is on the verge of continuing a family food tradition in a historic downtown Colorado Springs structure.

Wahid Hafsaoui, a 39-year-old native of Algiers, is putting the final touches on his new Couture’s Bistro, which should open in early November. The restaurant will be housed in the 6,800-square-foot former home of Couture’s Fabric Care at 218 N. Tejon St., a business owned and operated by the family of property owner Carl Peterson for generations. He moved Couture’s to 801 N. Tejon St. in 2000 but kept the downtown property as well.

Hafsaoui said that he and Peterson began toying with different ways to utilize the century-old building’s free space soon after he leased the other half more than three years ago, and the idea developed from there.

“It just came up like that — it just came up together,” Hafsaoui said. “We were going to do a patio in the back, and everything changes.”

The two have had an interestingly dynamic partnership in recreating the alley-like space: Hafsaoui, an informally trained chef and businessman, and Peterson, a passionate fan of Van Gogh and French culture, have created a low-lit European vibe that includes with a 29-foot-high back room with an old street lamp and wall mural made to create the feel of an open-air café in Arles, France.

“It all was like a vision and, you know, Carl helped me with the remodeling of this building,” Hafsaoui said.

Peterson paid for the entirety of the construction project — roughly $200,000, according to the restaurateur — while Hafsaoui equipped the space with gear for the kitchen, bar and dining area. Hafsaoui said that he has 11 years remaining on his lease — a contract combining both Paris Crepe and Couture’s Bistro.

He also said that he has obtained a liquor license through the city for both sides of the building, including a full bar in the back of the bistro.

And although it isn’t a finished product, Hafsaoui said that the menu has been in the works for some time and will offer mid-range European fare.

“We’re going to do some French, Italian; we’re going to do some Mediterranean food,” he said. “Price-wise, I don’t want to go really high, but I don’t want to go very low either.”

The reason that menu items at Couture’s Bistro might seem high will be due to Hafsaoui’s choice in ingredients. He said that the restaurant will “use fresh products like we use at Paris Crepe … I’m going to try to buy my own things without using any companies.”

He also lamented the fact that too many local restaurants use prepackaged, processed products and said he would like both his businesses to deviate from that norm.

“There should be a farmers market every morning, like in Europe,” he said.

Hafsaoui, who moved to the United States from Italy with his wife 11 years ago, says he comes from a long line of restaurateurs and his family has continued to own and operate the same fine-dining spot in Algiers for more than 70 years.

He plans to follow in their footsteps.

“We’re not looking for a chef, we’re looking for a cook,” he said. “I’ll do the menu …”

Hafsaoui said that the eatery will begin hiring personnel in mid-October, hire a contractor to provide free valet parking for guests and install a very snazzy sign — a refurbished version of the Couture’s sign that has been part of Colorado Springs for nearly a century — before the bistro opens its doors next month.