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New eatery to replace Nicolo’s Pizza in Longmont

LONGMONT – Sunday afternoon will be bittersweet for one couple and exciting for another.

Kent and Jeanne Blythe are retiring after 20 years of owning the Nicolo’s Pizza franchise location at 1631 Pace St. in the Fox Creek Village shopping center in northeast Longmont. The pizzeria’s last day is Saturday.

From noon until 4 p.m. the following day, they’ll hold what Jeanne Blythe called “an open-house retirement party, with good food and good conversation, and all our customers are invited.”

That gathering will also introduce the space’s new tenants, Jason and Jamie Perez, who plan to open JP’s restaurant there on Aug. 12.

“Sunday’s a free-for-all day for whoever wants to stop by,” Kent Blythe said.

Jason Perez had gone to work for the Blythes as Nicolo’s head chef in December 2021 after serving as executive chef at Upper Crust in Boulder.

“It’s a dream for them to go and run a business,” Kent Blythe said. “It’s set up for them; they’re not starting out brand new, trying to go from the bottom up, so they do have a good base to go with.”

Retirement won’t necessarily mean stepping away from the restaurant, he said, at least for a while.

“These guys will keep us busy, helping them get on their feet,” he said. “We’re not going to just disappear. They’ll have a lot of questions.”

Job layoffs in 2003 propelled Kent Blythe, who had been working for a semiconductor company, into the restaurant business. “That’s when the tech business kind of went down into the tank,” he said. “Two of our boys were already working in restaurants at 15 and 16, so I thought, ‘Why not just start our own business.’ We went out looking and found a small franchise, Nicolo’s Pizza out of Castle Rock.

“There were nine of them at one time, but there’s only a couple of those stores left,” he said. With the Longmont location’s closure, the remaining two Nicolo’s locations are at 9463 S. University Blvd. in Highlands Ranch and 7847 W. Jewell Ave. in Lakewood.

Nicolo’s in Longmont built a menu that included salads, soups, sandwiches, a wide array of pizzas and Italian pasta dishes, and 14 different varieties of calzones. But for the Blythes, the place became a family affair.

“Our sons, our oldest grandson and two daughters-in-law worked here,” said Jeanne Blythe, who split her time between working at Nicolo’s and at a customer-service post for the city of Longmont. “I got to watch them grow and prosper and become good business people.”

In fact, sons Jason and Eric, along with their father, now own Collision Brewing, 1436 Skyway Drive, and Collision’s craft beers are served at Nicolo’s.

“Our two boys, who worked with us all the years to help us get going here, have done well with it” since Collision opened on Sept. 11, 2018, Kent Blythe said. “I do a little bit of paperwork out there, but otherwise I have all my hobby cars out there.”

The decision to retire coincided with the expiration of Nicolo’s franchise agreement, he said. “The contract ends this week, so we’re done. We did our 20 years with them.”

The Perezes will start their own restaurant instead of renewing the franchise contract, Kent Blythe said. “They want to go do their own thing.”

That thing, Jason Perez said, is doing what he loves.

“JP’s is the concept I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “I never wanted to be held under a flag of, like, Italian. It’s just the food I like to cook. I always like to cook the different flavors and fuse different ethnicities together. I’m still keeping the pizza and what we’ve been doing here, but a different style as far as Neapolitan and Sicilian. We’ll go from hamburgers to Asian noodles to tacos to paella. It’s just beautiful food I love to cook. I love to really step out of the norm. You can get certain dishes anywhere, but here at JP’s it’ll be a unique cuisine now. You’ll have to come here to experience it.”

The website he’s building for JP’s,, says Jason Perez “views every plate as a blank canvas and every dish as a work of art.”

His wife works full time as director of operations for Jennifer Egbert at the MileHiModern real-estate brokerage in Boulder, but said “I’m also assisting my husband in pursuing his dreams of ownership.

“I’ll be in the background, doing the payroll and assisting Jason in running the everyday business,” Jamie Perez said. “Ultimately this will be our baby, and hopefully this will be just one of many.”

But she gives major credit to the Blythes for helping them make it happen.

“We definitely are so grateful,” she said. “Kent and Jeanne have mentored us. My husband wanted to pursue this dream for a long time.”

Mentoring was a highlight of the Blythes’ tenure at Nicolo’s.

“We’ve mentored a lot of people,” Jeanne Blythe said. “We’ve met so many wonderful people over the years, and that’s the part I’m really going to miss.”

Kent Blythe agreed. “This is bittersweet for us,” he said. “This whole time, we’ve seen a lot of young people come through here. A lot of them we still have as great friends, and now they have kids.”

But they’ll still enjoy helping the Perezes negotiate the bureaucracies and bumps of opening their own business.

“I hope they have the same success and joy that we’ve had,” Kent Blythe said.

As for Jason Perez, “I’m super excited. I wake up and think, ‘This is happening! This is real! I always told my mom, ‘Mom, someday I’m going to open a restaurant.’ Now it’s that one day.”

Source: BizWest