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Sizzling Pickle to reopen soon in new location, owner says

Ray K. Erku
Special to the Craig Press
Anthony Wade, left, gives a thumbs up to the camera on Monday as Sizzling Pickle owner Anna Lighthizer prepares the restaurant's new location near downtown Craig for a reopening scheduled for later this month.
Ray K. Erku / Special to the Craig Press

If all goes to plan, the doors of a well-known Craig eatery should reopen come month’s end, the owner said.

Anna Lighthizer is the owner of Sizzling Pickle Eatery & Lounge, a Craig restaurant known for its All-American fare. She said the restaurant’s outgrown its current home at the Thunder Rolls Bowling Center and is set to move to 351 Ranney St., which has sat vacant for the past three years.

“So, we released management of the whole bowling facility and decided to take the restaurant that my aunt and I have worked super hard to create a good name for and move it into an actual restaurant,” she said.

Sizzling Pickle started off as your typical bowling alley snack bar: a menu limited to corndogs, cheeseburgers and popcorn, among other basic “hold-me-overs.” But over time, Lighthizer said she wanted to further use her culinary background as a former caterer by expanding into a full-fledged restaurant.

But as the eatery began to attract more patrons, it was eventually made clear to Lightizer that the operation just wasn’t that feasible in such a limited space, she said.

“Pushing a restaurant out of a snack bar kitchen and the way it’s set up, there’s no way to run an extended kitchen,” she said. “We could only have one cook in there.”

Toward mid-March, things became even more uncertain with the arrival of COVID-19 when Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide closure of in-house dining and drinking at Colorado bars and restaurants. Yet the Sizzling Pickle and its staff saw an “overwhelming” community outpour of to-go and delivery orders, Lighthizer noted. Whether it was family, friends or hungry locals, she said they religiously ordered from her restaurant “at least once a week.”

What employees at Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply did was especially noteworthy, Lighthizer said. Murdoch’s ordered 25 to 30 meals every day for lunch, five days a week for about the first month of restrictions.

“They knew it was going to be a struggle and they didn’t want to see us go away,” Lighthizer said of the community effort.

Still, just like most of the service industry throughout the country, the virus left its financial footprint on the Sizzling Pickle.

“I’m not going to lie, there was a lot of concern right now with jumping into this and doing this because of COVID,” Lighthizer said. “Restaurants took the hits and we felt it – we took a hit, we saw what happened.”

“It’s a little scary,” Lighthizer added, “but at the same time, we’re totally comfortable with making this decision.”

The district surrounding 351 Ranney St. has certainly seen better days, and the Sizzling Pickle’s arrival could possibly rejuvenate its commercial vigor. In the past, a nearby mall was in operation for some time. That mall, however, caught fire nearly 20 years ago and in its place now sits a parking lot, said Lighthizer. A defunct furniture store next door to 351 Ranney, meanwhile, still sits vacant. “So we’re actually kind of really taking this area that was deadened in a way and bringing the business back into it,” Lighthizer said. 

She said she also plans to hire up to 10 additional employees to run the new location, for a total workforce of about 15-18.

“My staff is extremely important to me,” Lighthizer said. “Our LLC name is, ‘Parts of the Pickle’ – everyone here makes a part of the pickle… it wouldn’t be it without them.”

By Nov. 1 – the latest – Lighthizer, with the help of Sizzling Pickle manager RaChell Novacek, a well-known member of the community, is set to officially reopen Sizzling Pickle, which temporarily halted operations Sept. 26. Meanwhile, she said the bowling alley plans to take the vacant restaurant back to its roots – as a simple snack bar.


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