Owner Lefty Harris tosses some dough while making a pizza on Tuesday at Lefty’s Pizza on Wednesday in Niwot. Lefty’s is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. (Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)

One of the most enduring restaurants in Boulder Country is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Lefty’s Pizzeria and Ice Cream, a staple of the Niwot community, is giving its customers the best type of a thank-you note by offering them appreciation discounts for their loyalty.

Owner Craig “Lefty” Harris made a name for himself during his undergrad at the University of Colorado Boulder, when he was on a team of scientists that discovered Neptune’s rings in the 1980s. A few years later, Harris came up with the idea to open a Pizzeria while driving home to Niwot from Boulder with his wife.

“I was a post-doc at CU Boulder, and I was teaching, then all the funding dried up. Unlike all the other post docs, I had a family and wife,” Harris said. “We moved to Niwot and tried to order pizza one night, and there was no one to order from. We drove back from Boulder and saw a building for sale. My wife and I had a soulmate moment and said, ‘This could be a pizza place.’”

Since opening the restaurant 25 years ago, Lefty’s Pizzeria has made over 500,000 pizzas, using up over 240 tons of cheese and over 60 tons of sauce, he said.  Harris added that he has driven over 600,000 miles in deliveries for the store himself, which he noted is equivalent to one round-trip to the moon.

With many experiences since first opening the company, Harris believes that just seeing people come in and order his pizza is the source of his pride. He considers the experience “humbling.”

“It’s not just about customers grabbing pizza because they don’t want to cook dinner,” Harris said. “It’s a significant amount of people with out-of-state guests who bring them in just because they want them to experience the Lefty’s experience. They can choose anywhere they want to eat, and they choose to eat here. The number of people who have decided to get married on my patio, the number of people who have had their first dates, and every other life event there is — the only word that comes up is, it is humbling.”

Lefty’s Pizzeria offers more than 20 specialty pizzas, ranging from Buffalo Wing style to Taco style. From submarine sandwiches to pastas and calzones, Lefty’s strives to offer the true Italian food experience. Harris opened his restaurant with little cooking experience, but by devoting himself to self-teaching, he can make pizzas New York style, Chicago style — even Imo pizza from St Louis, Edwardo’s pizza from Jersey, plus much more.

Even with all the success he has enjoyed over the years, Harris is still focusing on making an impact in the Niwot community. He noted that he has seen the community gathering together less and less over the years, so he does a Saturday night movie night in the backyard of the restaurant to get the neighborhood involved with one another.

Kris Vaswig, a former Niwot resident now living in Longmont, will always remember the Harris family helping out during his holiday seasons.

“In about 2003, my father passed away when we were in Niwot,” Vaswig said. “We had never met the Harris family. That next December, around Christmas time, someone would ring the doorbell and run away, and there would be a meal or a nice note with no name. Just completely anonymous.

“We found out later that it was the Harris family who learned from the community that we were going through a rough time, and they just wanted to make our holiday season a little more special.”

Harris has always been about reinvention, and he is still thinking of new and creative ways to improve his company. The former astrophysicist is in the process of completing two books and has big plans for his pizza company in the future.

“We are in the process of reinventing again, and the timing couldn’t be any better,” Harris said. “What I’m exploring is the possibility of expanding. I’m looking to open up 20-plus stores in the next few years. I’m looking for investors who are looking to receive a significant portion ofmoney back. When you have people who have traveled hundreds of miles for your food, it’s time to spread the news and bring it to everybody.”




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