Mellow Mushroom popping up in Lone Tree

The Mellow Mushroom's Centennial restaurant features its trademark whimsical decor. Photo by Deborah Grigsby
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The curse of the former Blue Rox Grill restaurant site is about to be broken, restaurateur Shane Purcel believes. In June, he will open the Mellow Mushroom in the same space that's so far housed four failed restaurants.

“We plan on totally redoing the building, and having a big patio with glass garage doors we'll be able to use year-round,” Purcel said. “Tens of thousands of cars drive by there every day. It's up on top of a hill. It's got grew views of the mountains. There is no reason for a resultant to fail there.”

The building, which opened in 1999 in the city's Entertainment District, has housed Hops, Kassai, Grazio and the Blue Rox restaurants, all of them short-lived. It's been shuttered since 2010, with inquiries from Fascinations, Hooters and others.

The Mellow Mushroom, with pizza-tossing cooks and colorful decor, seems a good fit for the family-friendly shopping center, city leaders believe. The 120-site franchise already has earned a reputation in the metro area with its Streets at Southglenn and downtown Denver locations.

“There are pizza restaurants everywhere,” Purcel said. “But a good pizza restaurant is hard to find. Ours is different than anything else you've had.”

The decor will be different, too. Purcel plans to gut the Park Meadows Drive building, add a patio and splash the interior with color.

“In Centennial, we've got this psychedelic tavern look,” Purcel said. “In Lone Tree, we're doing to do this retro '70s look. A lot of the colors, shapes and materials will remind you of things you thought probably never would come back into style — and probably never will — but it will be cool in the restaurant.”

Exterior colors that include shades of orange and blue nearly proved the restaurant's undoing, earning it split votes from both the planning commission and city council. But one planning commissioner, who described the current building as bland and uninviting, thinks the colors may be keys to the Mellow Mushroom's success and a draw for the Entertainment Center.

City Councilmember Harold Anderson, who voted against the proposal, said the exterior colors were his only concern.

“To me, colors like that get your attention, but I'm not sure if it brings people there to shop,” he said. “But I can understand why they did it.”

Longtime resident Anderson said the gaudy appearance of some buildings and a desire to limit such designs played a major role in the decision to incorporate Lone Tree in 1995. That history was on his mind when he cast his “no” vote.

Purcel muted the orange and blue to appease city officials, but wouldn't let it go entirely.

“If you look around the Entertainment District, they have some kind of crazy colors going on there already,” he said. “We have no interest in making a tacky building. It's going to look good.”

Community development director Steve Hebert is optimistic the whimsical exterior that is part of Mellow Mushroom's marketing scheme will have a broader impact.

“Maybe the Entertainment District is an appropriate place for that,” he said. “Hopefully, it creates a synergy with the movie theater.”