Pablo’s Pizza to open franchise in Fort Collins

Cathy Braunlin learns how to properly roll pizza dough from Paul Knaysi, owner of Pablo’s Pizza.

The thin-crust, gourmet pizza that Grand Junctionites have grown to love at Pablo’s Pizza will soon be available to residents of the Front Range, too.

Cathy Braunlin recently bought a franchise of the popular pizza restaurant and plans to open a location in Fort Collins by the end of May. She started employee training this week, under the direction of franchiser Paul Knaysi, who owns and runs the downtown Grand Junction location at 319 Main St. Knaysi plans to teach her everything she needs to know to operate the business successfully.

“We kind of felt like it was a way for us to grow the business without having multiple businesses to run,” Knaysi said of the decision to franchise the restaurant. The Fort Collins’ location will be the third restaurant in the chain. The other is in Fruita, 456 Kokopelli Blvd., unit C.

Braunlin is a former teacher who visited Grand Junction and ate at Pablo’s more than six years ago. She loved the food and thought it would be a perfect fit in Fort Collins.

“We have a lot of good pizza places, but we don’t have one with creative combos and the atmosphere where you would go out with friends and have a drink,” she said, “It’s a niche that’s not being served there.”

Braunlin said the new restaurant will have a more sophisticated, bistro atmosphere in order to fit into the surrounding neighborhood.

“It will be aimed at young professionals,” she said.

The franchise requires that certain menu items remain the same, but it allows for flexibility by the owner. Braunlin is able to choose the look and location of her restaurant, as well as add to her menu as she sees fit for her business.

“We don’t want every Pablo’s to be exactly the same, so we’re very flexible,” Knaysi said.

Menu items that will not change include some of the most popular pizzas, such as the Punk’s Pesto, which have built the reputation of the business.

As part of the deal, Braunlin will receive extensive training. This week, she is learning the basic employee requirements — everything from rolling dough to washing dishes. She’ll return in March for manager training and again in April to learn owner training.

She’s looking forward to the challenge. “I didn’t want to teach forever so this is an opportunity for me to use all my skill sets,” Braunlin said.

Mostly, she said, “It’s going to be super fun.”

Knaysi doesn’t foresee making an aggressive push on his part to open more restaurants. He is, however, excited to be represented on the Front Range.

“It gives us a huge potential market as more people will try it that may have never heard of it,” he said.


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