Barbara Ann Megyeri was a single mother with four children when, partly inspired by John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High”, she moved in 1978 from Colorado Springs, Michigan.
At the source, she opened the Bambino pizzeria, which expanded to four locations and earned it the name “Mama Bambino”. She passed away last summer at the age of 80, but the family business continues and moves into a third generation.
Kevin Megyeri was 16 – halfway through his freshman year of high school – when his mother moved him and his siblings to Colorado. They would all grow up with Bambino’s – “each of the kids had pretty much their own location,” he says – with Bambino’s Italian Eatery and Sports Bar at Circle Drive and Platte Avenue, run by Kevin and his wife Suzette, surviving the other venues. .
They closed this long-standing location, in a rented space on the second floor of the now demolished Tower Plaza shopping center, in 2015 and reopened with a new concept and name – Bambino’s Urban Pizzeria – in a downtown building. – town owned by the family. This happened a year after the opening of another restaurant, the Skirted Heifer, on the other side of the building. Their empire of mini-restaurants grew further in 2019 with the addition of a second skirted heifer, owned by son Kevin Shane Megyeri, along Powers Boulevard in the city’s northeast.
Now Kevin and Suzette take a step back. In July, Kevin Shane will also take over ownership of the Downtown Skirted Heifer. It also assumes 67% of the shares of Bambino’s; Longtime manager Heather Blair will own the remaining 33%.
“It was a really fun trip,” says Suzette. But, she admits, she and Kevin are tired. All those years at the old Bambino – running a busy restaurant, buffet, and sports bar, and tackling all those stairs – have been particularly exhausting, she says. For 20 years, “I don’t think we’ve taken more than four days of vacation.”
Kevin will be 60 in August; Suzette is 57 years old.
“We just wanted to slow down and take a step back and pass the torch,” says Kevin.
Son of longtime Colorado Springs restaurant owner, following in his father’s footsteps
A new generation
Kevin Shane, 27, is happy to take up the torch.
“I kind of always knew this was where I was going to end up,” said Kevin Shane, an economics and finance graduate from Colorado State University, where he also played baseball. He held every position in the family’s restaurants, from dishwasher to manager, before being entrusted with the skirted heifer on Powers.
“The cool thing is that everything was my restaurant,” he says. His parents were with him every step of the way at first, he adds, but within months they were able to move away.
The Skirted Heifer was born out of a desire to do something with the downtown apartment building that Barbara Ann bought in 2006. “She’s always had the real estate bug,” says Kevin – and the urge to s ‘tackle a new concept.
“We only knew Italian cuisine,” says Suzette. But she cooked burgers at home – with a “skirt” of Wisconsin cheddar cheese – and they decided to run with that concept for “a little burger joint” downtown.
It’s a concept that caught the attention of Food Network: the skirted heifer was featured in “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” by celebrity chef Guy Fieri. This led to Suzette and Kevin Shane being invited to participate in “Guy’s Grocery Games”. Suzette was ready to send an email thanking Food Network for the opportunity, but saying at the end that they were just too busy to participate. But Kevin Shane was not ready to miss it.
“I said, ‘Mom, you take that last line out and send it,’” Shane said.
He and his father had always had baseball as a common passion; he and his mother, however, had never competed together on anything. They turned out to be a winning pair.
“We won our episode,” Kevin Shane said. “We killed him.” They then took second place in the tournament final, winning $ 10,000.
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His mom gave him all that money, “which was cool,” he says, “but I think the coolest thing I won was his trust. Your own restaurant?”
“Our happy place”
The skirted heifer on the northeast side has been a “super hit,” says Shane, and has remained busy even during the pandemic; in fact, he had to add more staff to meet the demand. (Although these days, like others, he’s struggling to find workers.)
Bambino and the first skirted heifer suffered at the height of the pandemic; the Megyeris attribute this to the emptying of downtown offices, students staying at home and tourists not visiting, resulting in no lunch crowd. The new Bambino’s quick and relaxed concept and a greater focus on on-the-go products helped keep it afloat, they say; the old Bambino’s, with a larger footprint, the buffet and the bar, would not have been a good choice for times of pandemic.
“Thank goodness we were able to survive,” says Suzette.
Now they are ready to rest and enjoy their retirement in their new home in Salida. “It’s really our happiness,” says Suzette.
But, says Kevin, “we’re not completely disappearing.” He and Suzette will always be available to help and they schedule quarterly meetings with Kevin Shane.
“I’m glad he’s taking over,” says Kevin. He notes that if Bambino lasts another seven years, it will mark half a century for the family business.
“I really wish he could do it,” says Kevin.
Kevin and Suzette have been a team; he worked largely at the back of the house and Suzette worked at the front.
“It just became natural,” says Suzette. “What I wasn’t good at was good, and vice versa.… Partnering with my husband was really, really fun.”
Kevin Shane won’t have this lasting partnership, even though he will have a partner in Blair as much as Bambino’s. “We work very well together,” he says.
His parents have always been “super hands on,” but with three restaurants to oversee, he’ll be relying more on his managers – and the technology that helps him oversee those restaurants and their roughly 75 employees without having to be on-site at all. time. .
As for the future, “when I was just out of college, I said I wanted 50 restaurants by age 50,” says Kevin Shane. Then, after opening the Powers Skirted Heifer, he reduced that objective to five. Now he thinks three can be a lot to deal with. He used to think that that four-day family vacation was sort of the law – no more than four vacation days a year – but he saw the need for a work-life balance.
Still, he says, a friend has already told him about a potential site at Fountain.
“Who knows? …. I’m always up for a challenge.”
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