(COLORADO SPRINGS) — The smells of burgers sizzling on the grill fill the inside of Felipe’s 109 located in southeast Colorado Springs. The restaurant combines two dishes to craft a signature dish, what they call a taco burger.
“We are a fast food, fast casual restaurant,” said Felipe’s 109 Owner, Felipe Velasquez. “We still believe that there is still a need for that here in Colorado Springs, for someone to be a local.”
Colorado Springs community members packed the restaurant on Taco Tuesday to show their support after the local restaurant shared on Facebook the uncertainty of their future due to construction.
“The city of Colorado Springs does have construction on South Academy all the way through Academy right now,” said Velasquez. “I’m having a hard time with it, there is a big dirt pile that is kind of blocking the view and other closures.”
A massive dirt pile sits right in front of the restaurant, which Velasquez said not only blocks the restaurant from the street but also is hurting other businesses in the area.
“People really don’t pass us,” Velasquez said. “They really can’t see us, and this has really been a challenge for us for the last couple of months for sure. King Soopers has closed down as well.”
The business first started as a food truck back in 2020, and after a year into business, moved into a brick and mortar location.
“I have two special needs children, and so it was just best for us to move into a building,” said Velasquez. “So that way I didn’t have to be all over the city and we had a great opportunity to be here on the southeast side of Colorado Springs.”
When the doors opened in their permanent home, it was during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was a challenge for the business to navigate.
“We go from a food truck to a brick and mortar,” Velasquez said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty with that as well. Just because we were in COVID, and were still continuing to push through.”
It is the customers who are helping keep this restaurant afloat and their staff smiling.
“The favorite part about running Felipe’s 109 is the people that I get to see, the love and happiness that I get to see with families,” Velasquez said. “Where I get to see moms and dads and kids and siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles be able to sit down at a table and see each other and talk to each other, with a minimal cell phone usage, and just be a part of a unity and culture and community and family.”
For customers grabbing a bite to eat, they not only appreciate the unique dishes but also the overall environment that the restaurant cultivates.
“Food’s awesome here, the quality is so much better than a lot of places,” said customer Chris Grate. “They’re quick to get it done, their pricing is very reasonable. So, to me it’s a better deal than most of the chain or fast-food restaurants.”
Another customer on Taco Tuesday was 10-year-old Anders Larsen who dreams of one day becoming a future chef.
“It teaches me how like I can make these French Fries,” Larsen said. “Will be an easy go because, well, it’s made from potatoes.”
In terms of what’s next for the restaurant, Velasquez is hopeful that they will be able to raise enough money to relocate to a different location.
“Our lease is going to be up in December,” Velasquez said. “We do have a potential buyer for the property, and… I can’t wait for the property owners to let me know if the potential buyer has bought the property or not.”
If you wish to help support the restaurants goals of relocating, you can online.
While the future of the restaurant may be uncertain, customers are hopeful these dishes won’t be going away anytime soon.
“It’s phenomenal, the staff are awesome,” Grate said. “The location is actually really good for us down here. I was going to say their secret ingredient, I’m pretty sure, is cooked with pride and love, you know?”
Felipe’s 109 will be hosting an event on September 8 at their restaurant to bring the Southern Colorado community together for an end-of-summer bash.
“We have Friday Night Lights where we’re hoping that we could get a lot of cars, a lot of vendors, a lot of food trucks and hopefully be able to provide some fun for the community still,” Velasquez said. “We’re still here to support the community. We’re still here for the people.”