Suzanne Alley and Jeff Noffsinger came to the Loveland Center for Business Development (LCBD) in October, 2013 seeking guidance as they delved into the process of starting a new business in downtown Loveland. Although I never expressed my deep concern about whether they had achievable goals for their proposed business, I certainly had those thoughts running around in my head. As a previous restaurant owner, the questions that I had came from years of experience working in restaurants and owning a restaurant for five years. Suzanne and Jeff, both sommeliers, would bring great knowledge of wine to their new business and that was comforting to hear. But, they had never owned a restaurant and that can be a huge issue. Robin Shukle, Executive Director for the LCBD, is a genius at getting people financing for their business. It is much more difficult to get financing for restaurants and food trucks, even if you are working with Robin. Thankfully, Suzanne and Jeff were able to finance their business idea and Origins Wine Bar & Wood Fired Pizza had their grand opening on June 3, 2015.
I was invited to one of the soft opening events and was delighted to meet Chef Karin Vandermerwe; Lead Bartender, Meggan Reed-Johnson; and HR guru, Meredith Jugoz. I was quite impressed with the hiring skill to choose this level of talent. Origins has a staff of 1 head chef, 3 managers and 30 employees. As downtown Loveland continues to blossom, adding this number of jobs to the community is a step in the right direction.
Origins specializes in Napoletana-style thin crust pizzas. A key element as you enter the restaurant is the beautiful wood-fired pizza oven that was imported from Naples. Two of my favorite pizzas on their menu are the Dali: pesto, wild mushrooms, fior di latte, roasted red bell pepper and the Quattro Formaggi: fior di latte, ricotta, parmesan, mascarpone, finished with truffle oil and black sea salt. Aside from the delicious food choices, pay attention to the décor on your next visit to the restaurant. There is beehive theme going on and check out the lighting. The lights were designed by local artist, Steve Shactman.
Suzanne has been an international flight attendant for 30 years. I am certain this career path instilled in Suzanne superb customer service skills. The opportunity to experience food and wine and cultures from Europe and South America is a unique and inspiring benefit of traveling internationally with one’s job.
Jeff’s background is in government/City Planning in both Indiana and Wyoming and has a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Wyoming. Jeff brings a wealth of business acumen and steers the business financially. He also has a passion for cycling and bicycled throughout Italy and Europe where he discovered his wine palate (but not while cycling thankfully!)
I would consider myself to be a “regular” at Origins. I drop by the restaurant at odd times; thinking there is no way that Suzanne or Jeff will be in the restaurant at such an off hour. Each time, I see either Jeff or Suzanne as they are walking through the restaurant making sure things are running smoothly. This has become one of my favorite spots in downtown Loveland. I am not alone; Origins was voted best new restaurant and new business in the Loveland Reporter-Herald’s Reader Choice Awards for 2015.
I attended the Old World versus New World Wine Tasting on September 22, 2015 and I was in awe listening to Suzanne talk about the nuances of the wines and historical bits of information about the families who started the vineyards. I will definitely sign up for another tasting.
I love finding good happy hour deals. Origins offers happy hour specials Monday to Friday from 4 pm to 6 pm. If you miss happy hour, don’t despair, they have a wine keg system. You can get a great quality wine at reasonable price – you can’t beat that. If you sign up for their e-Vine newsletter, you will get some sweet deals that only the newsletter recipients receive.
Initially I had misgivings when I first heard about the idea of another pizza restaurant coming to Loveland. After my first meal at Origins Wine Bar & Wood Fired Pizza, those worries all dissolved. Straight from Origin’s website, “We specifically chose downtown Loveland, CO for our restaurant with a vision of bringing together Old World practices with New World ideas to offer a truly unique dining experience.” Origins is located at 500 N Lincoln Avenue in Loveland, CO.