Nick Pasquariello has worked in restaurants from Telluride to Montrose to Denver, so when he decided to go into business for himself, he knew exactly what he was looking for -- a small-town location with a downhome atmosphere where he could build his customer base by offering consistently good food and service week after week.
He opened Backyard Café in Delta's Columbine Mall, at 326 Main Street. Last winter, he operated Backyard BBQ from a vending cart on the ski slopes at Telluride. The restaurant expands on that premise, offering breakfast and lunch five days a week, Monday-Friday.
Barbecue brisket sandwiches, smoked chicken sandwiches, chicken salad and more are served with fresh-cut fries. "It may take an extra couple of minutes for your food to come out, because the french fries and hash browns are cut and cooked to order," Pacquariello said.
Breakfast favorites include a Backyard eggs benedict, which is served on a biscuit rather than an English muffin, and made with brisket instead of ham. It's topped with two fried eggs and covered with the traditional Hollandaise sauce. The biscuits and gravy feature huge cat's head-style biscuits covered with sausage gravy made fresh every morning.
To "switch things up," Nick offers a daily special like grilled peanut butter and jelly or a breakfast entree.
"I put my own twist on everything," said Pasquariello, who has been cooking since he was 16 years old. He enrolled in the hospitality-restaurant management program offered at Olathe High School, then pursued a degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales in Denver. He's cooked just about everything, from diner-style entrees to five-star plates. Most recently, he oversaw a dietary department conversion at San Juan Living Center in Montrose. "We went from institutional food to made-to-order meals," he said.
He also co-owned The River's End Bar * Grill in Ridgway with his mother, Judy Snelling, but when the recession hit, they decided not to reopen after a seasonal closure.
At Backyard Café, Nick is the only cook, but his wife Samantha bakes muffins, banana bread, brownies and more. Gluten-free options are available, both in the baked goods and the made-to-order items from the kitchen.
A good friend, Adam Reardon, handles customer service.
Backyard Café is open from 7 to 2. Call ahead to place your order, at 399-3437, or just swing by Columbine Mall where you'll find plenty of seating and additional parking in the back.
"Come give us a try," Nick said. "I'll bet you will be back for more."