During Bob Quintana’s days as a boy growing up in North Denver his Italian neighbors, the Marones, had a talent for making pizza. His sister Marguerite would bring home pizza from the Marones house for the family to taste. This was Bob’s first taste of pizza. The Quintanas soon began making pizza for themselves using tomatoes and herbs, such as oregano and basil, from their garden. It wasn’t until the Caruso family began serving pizza at their donut shop at Navajo Street (across from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church) that Bob tasted his first commercial pizza. Around 1950 a man from New York came to Denver and opened the first pizzeria and called it “Jim’s Pizzeria.” After that pizzerias began popping up all over Denver.
Bob’s interest has always been in pizza and he has always had an appetite for it. This appetite led him to pursue a job as a busboy at Pagliacci’s Italian Restaurant when he was 15 years old. In 1952 Carl’s Pizzeria opened and still operates today at 38th and Newton. At the age of 17 Bob went to work for Carl washing dishes and later become a short order cook. “Carl taught me a lot including shooting craps and he kept me out of trouble,” chuckled Bob. He worked at Carl’s for five years and then went to work for Granny’s Pizza on 32nd and Federal. It was during his management position at the Yum Yum Tree that he met his wife to be, Paula Jones. Bob and Paula were married in 1973. Soon after, Carl’s son passed away and he needed someone to take over, so Bob came and worked for him for one year with the goal of finding a place of his own.
What began as a vision soon became a reality and on April 1, 1978 Li’l Nick’s was born. Paula had scanned the papers for months for a home for their business. She found a place in Wheat Ridge that was a 1,000 square foot Italian restaurant. The name was changed and the Quintanas began building their clientele. Bob’s son Nick was two at the time and Bob and Paula thought that would make a good name for the restaurant.
Business in the beginning was slow, but it caught on and there was a surge of business after two years. In 1983 they expanded the restaurant to include a second dining room. The original menu included pizza and a few sandwiches and pasta dishes. Bob and Paula along with Bob’s parents, Frank and Ruby Quintana, helped to make the place run. Ruby made the Italian sausage and meatballs. Still today the sauce, dough, meatballs and lasagna are all made from scratch. They delivered for 10 years until Li’l Nick’s became too busy to handle both dining room and delivery business. When they stopped doing delivery they decided to expand their menu to include Mexican food. “People kept asking where a good Mexican restaurant was, and we decided since we knew how to make it we could add it to the menu,” said Bob.
At the age of 8, Bob’s son Nick began working in the restaurant washing dishes. He remembers listening to all of the Nuggets games on the radio and attributes his years of work at the restaurant to the fact that he is such an avid fan! Nick has been working together with his father ever since to make Li’l Nick’s the successful family business it is today. When you walk in the restaurant you are always greeted by a friendly face and a feeling of tradition.
5016 Kipling Street | Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
Li'l Nick's Pizza
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