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Snarf’s move to Arapahoe home advanced by Boulder Planning Board

If shop opens as planned, sandwich chain's new store at 2660 Pearl St. likely becomes burger joint

General Manager Ripple Vander Meulen makes sandwiches for customers at the recently opened Snarf’s location on Pearl Street location on Nov. 7, 2019.
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Snarf’s Sandwiches made a key step Thursday to open a new “original location” in its hometown of Boulder.

A Planning Board hearing resulted in de facto approval of a proposal put forward earlier this year and later withdrawn before being recently resubmitted to convert a single-family dwelling at 1852 Arapahoe Ave. to restaurant use for the Boulder-born sandwich chain.

It allows Snarf’s to reestablish a downtown presence after being displaced twice in the past decade by new development in the east Pearl Street area, including from its original location.

“I’ve been driving down (Arapahoe) forever and I just love that building,” Snarf’s founder Jimmy Seidel said. “When I lost my second original location, I needed a third original location.”

If the new sandwich shop on Arapahoe opens as planned, Seidel said the Snarf’s that just opened last week at 2660 Pearl St. will likely be transitioned to a Snarfburger, another brand under his chain that has a burger shack at 2000 Arapahoe Ave. down the road from the proposed sandwich store.

The Planning Board unanimously voted to continue the hearing on the proposal to change the rental home’s use into a restaurant, so it could be approved at its next meeting later this month.

The continuance was required because city staff recommended a denial of the property use conversion.

“The presumption against such a conversion may be overcome by a finding that the use to be approved serves another compelling social, human services, governmental, or recreational need in the community including, without limitation, a use for a day care center, park, religious assembly, social service use, benevolent organization use, art or craft studio space, museum, or an educational use,” staff stated in a memo, adding a restaurant does not meet the criteria.

But Planning Board members recognized that suggestion was a formality based largely on technical constraints of city policy meant to prevent the loss of housing to commercial uses.

Because the city would lose only one single-family home, and because the building has historically been used for commercial purposes since it was built in 1910, Planning Board overrode the staff suggestion.

“I think staff is doing the right thing by following the letter of the rule and allowing the discretionary part of this review to happen in the public eye, not at their desks,” board Chair Bryan Bowen said.

In this case, the board saw benefit provided by a Snarf’s to the neighborhood and young people who frequent the area, with Boulder High School and Naropa University buildings nearby.

“Everybody loves Snarf’s,” said John Reynolds, the Arapahoe property owner.

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