Mixing markets

Pronghorn and burritos, but not pronghorn burritos — that’s the idea behind Speedgoat, a new bar and grill coming soon to a downtown near you.

For more than a year, Rajeev Patel and 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.

“We were at the point where I was like, ‘Alright, the next step is we need to spend a bunch of money,’” Hentgen said. “That’s normally when people bail out, but (Patel) didn’t, and that’s good.”

With more than a decade of service industry experience, Hentgen said he’s been involved in more than a few discussions about starting a business, but Speedgoat will be his first.

On the other hand, Patel said he had minimal experience with food service, but his contribution would be his experience as the owner of Quality Inn and Suites and Gateway Fuels and Liquors.

“Together, we should have a dang good business,” Patel said.

Inside the gutted storefront at 213 Grand Ave., bare brick peeked through the walls, wooden rafters hung in the air like a whale’s exposed ribcage and Patel peered over a set of plans with Hentgen discussing the alchemy involved in transmuting the empty building into a bustling eatery.

“We’re going for a modern industrial feel,” Patel said.

Hentgen added, “We’re redoing the entire storefront — new windows, a metal-structure awning-type deal with our name on it. But, we still want it to still incorporate with the older buildings in the area.”

He said he also planned to craft some of the furniture from the timber removed during the remodel.

The plans are aggressive, but Patel said they hoped to be open no later than October.

“Our (bar-and-grill) license application says Aug. 20, but that was to make the paperwork easier,” Patel said. “The license will go into effect in October when we open.”

Despite the bar-and-grill license, he said the establishment was not intended to cater solely to those who drink alcohol.

While Laramie’s new liquor laws remove the requirement to separate the bar area from the dining area, the duo said they would install a partial wall anyway.

“We think it opens us up to a broader market,” Hentgen said. “Say it’s a Sunday, and all my friends are gone — I’m probably going to go somewhere and watch the game, but I doubt I’d do that somewhere with a bunch of families around me.”

By building a partial wall, he said people seeking the bar environment would have an area separate from the main dining room. But Patel and Hentgen didn’t want to exclude the families either.

“It’s kind of like the best of both worlds,” Hentgen said. “On (the dining) side, families can do their thing without having to worry about a bunch of people getting loud and enjoying the game.”

While other establishments in Laramie have similar setups, Patel said Speedgoat’s fare was what would really set them apart from the other restaurants and bars in town.

“Burritos — for me — are a really important thing,” Patel said, chuckling. “We’re a college town. We thought it would be a good fit.”

On the back end, Hentgen said burritos were easier to do in high volume without charging exorbitant rates than other ideas they had.

“We wanted something no one else was doing,” he said. “The No. 1 thing we wanted was something that was going to be prep heavy without constraining us to a certain cuisine.”

Burritos might suggest a Mexican-oriented menu to some, but Hentgen said that would not be the case at Speedgoat.

“Our tacos and burritos here won’t necessarily be Mexican,” he said. “We will have some, but we’ll also have Thai, Indian, Mediterranean and all sorts of other cuisines that will all just be wrapped in a tortilla.”

Patel said the duo were not currently considering using pronghorn meat in any of the recipes despite the name.

“We might have some antelope jerky or something up front,” he said, smiling. “But we’re not planning on serving a speed goat burrito.”

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