Well before tasting the Mellow Mushroom’s food, the restaurant’s new Lone Tree building feeds its guests’ eyes with colorful, whimsical decor.
The visual appetizers start on Park Meadows Drive, where the orange-and-blue building — topped by a cartoon mushroom flashing a peace sign and tossing a pizza — greets visitors to the Entertainment District. A smiling, pizza-laden waiter sculpted in yellow and blue metal stands at the restaurant’s entrance. The sensory stimulus doesn’t let up inside, where a 1970s theme plays out in disco balls, color-splashed ceiling supports and wall murals on which butterflies, mushrooms and musicians appear to dreamily float.
“The decor is fabulous,” said Lone Tree resident Kim Lenihan, one of hundreds who dined there during the restaurant’s June 30 grand opening.
“Fantastic,” agreed Bob Lenihan.
“Groovy,” decided a man at the bar.
The new look is a far cry from any of the building’s previous tenants, which included the Blue Rox Grill, Hops, Kassai and Grazio. Franchise owners Sharon and Morris Purcel and their son Shane stripped the restaurant’s interior down to the shell, investing about $2 million to redesign the building to their standards. That included greatly expanding the patio with garage doors and in-floor heating to allow open-air or enclosed year-round dining, reconfiguring the kitchen and taking the building’s exterior from bland to brilliant.
“The design and colors reflect the fun that’s to be had inside,” Sharon Purcel said. “It’s family-oriented, and it’s also after-hours-oriented.”
Drink and food menu offerings carry on the quirky theme — with names like the Kosmic Karma, Mellowterranean and Thai Dye pizzas — but Purcel said the restaurant’s pizza is serious business.
“Our pizza crust is what makes it extremely special,” Purcel said. “Our specialty is the spring water and the molasses. It’s a very creative recipe.”
Mellow Mushroom also offers build-your-own salads, calzones and hoagies.
The Lone Tree location is the third in Colorado, preceded by The Streets at Southglenn and downtown Denver locations.
“We’re just thrilled to be part of the community,” Purcel said. “The population is exactly who we thought would enjoy the restaurant.
“We definitely want to embrace the community. I certainly hope the community embraces us.”
The 121-store Georgia-based chain opened its first restaurant in 1974. Purcel said more sites are planned in Colorado.