Becoming a successful business owner in Laramie is about more than product management and understanding consumer demographics, Speedgoat owner Rajeev Patel said.
“We really believe that if you open a business downtown, you become a part of business community,” said Patel, who opened Speedgoat, a restaurant specializing in burritos and tacos, Dec. 29 at 213 Grand Ave. “So, we think it’s important to develop partnerships with our neighbors. We serve H + S Coffee (Roasters) nitro coffee on tap, and we use their coffee for our everyday offering. Our desserts are made by Sweets (Cakes & Pastries), and Born in a Barn makes the buffalo sauce for our buffalo burrito.”
After being open little more than a week, he said Speedgoat has created several partnerships with Laramie businesses and continues to seek more.
“That’s one of the main reasons we wanted to open our restaurant downtown — to be part of this (business) community,” Patel said.
For more than a year, Patel and his business partner Tim Hentgen discussed the possibility of working together on a new restaurant idea for Laramie, but the gears didn’t start spinning until they leased a location on Grand Avenue and secured one of the bar-and-grill licenses recently made available through state legislation passed in 2017.
After a longer-than-anticipated renovation period, which included replacing the storefront with energy efficient windows, installing barn-wood flooring and décor and commissioning a mural for the exterior wall, Patel and Hentgen said they were ready to serve the public burritos influenced by cuisines across the world.
“I love Mexican food, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t want to get pigeonholed into any particular cuisine,” Hentgen said. “We really wanted to be able to do anything we wanted.”
So far, he said it’s working. Two of the restaurant’s biggest sellers during its opening week were the Mongolian Burrito and Bahn Mi Taco.
“Bahn Mi is a really traditional Vietnamese dish,” Hentgen said. “And it’s one of my favorite things to order anywhere I go. It’s traditionally served on a steamed bun, but I wanted to try something different with it.”
Patel said the kitchen dipped into his mother’s recipe book for some of the curry dishes, and Hentgen said he added some Mediterranean flavors to the menu as well to provide customers a diverse selection.
“Plus, there’s the buffalo burrito, because — I mean, come on — who doesn’t love buffalo wings?” Hentgen said.
The blending didn’t stop with the palate.
Patel said green and gray interior was inspired by his desire to give diners an escape from the region while still filling a cohesive role along the Grand Avenue walkway.
“I wanted something that wasn’t here,” he said. “I wanted people to feel like they were stepping out of Laramie, but I also wanted to bring in a modern touch while keeping the feel of downtown.”
Encasing the sea of gray and green chairs and hand-crafted wooden tabletops, each of the restaurant’s walls sported a singular visual focus, such as a life-size bust of Speedy, the Speedgoat’s pronghorn mascot, a cluster of typography against an otherwise empty wall or a silhouette of the Snowy Range weaving through the restaurant’s name.
“Wherever you are in the restaurant, I wanted it to be simple but visually appealing,” Patel said.
On the bar side of the establishment, Hentgen said.
Speedgoat’s custom craft cocktails were a big hit in the first week.
“People seemed to really enjoy our Moscow Goat, Sparkling Margarita and Tim’s Pink Drink, which is named for our bar manager, not myself,” he said.
With the heavy lifting of licensing a new business and renovating an old building behind them, Patel said he and Hentgen were looking forward to spending 2018 focusing on refining their menu and molding their business model to their customer base.