Brothers Daniel and Luis Ramirez aren’t shy about their ambitions for the family business. They want their restaurant, Los Dos Potrillos, to be “the Shake Shack of Mexican food,” Daniel said.
The journey to turn that dream into reality starts later this year with the debut of Los Dos Potrillos Cocina y Cantina in Northglenn, a fast-casual spin-off of the brothers’ original restaurant, which serves some of the best tacos along the Front Range, according to The Denver Post’s readers.
Additionally, Los Dos Potrillos is set to break ground next month on a new restaurant and brewery in Castle Rock that will become its primary beer production and packaging facility. That will not only feed the taps in its aggressive expansion plan, but also make its original beers more widely available at liquor and grocery stores, the Ramirezes said.
Since the time they began peeling potatoes and washing dishes together in the kitchen of the original Los Dos Potrillos, which their father Jose Ramirez opened in 2002, Daniel and Luis have been dreaming of carrying on the legacy. After all, the restaurant is named for them.
As Daniel tells it, the rambunctious boys earned the nickname los dos potrillos, or two colts, from their grandparents. Today, they operate the restaurant group, which includes four locations in Littleton, Highlands Ranch, Centennial and Parker, as co-chief executives. The Parker location is the home of the existing brewhouse, which makes beers for the other restaurants as well.
“It’s just instilled in my brother and I. It’s a goal we set when we were younger that we wanted to expand upon our dad’s vision when he started Los Dos and we want to just make his legacy continue,” Luis said.
Here’s a taste of what’s to come at the new restaurants in Northglenn and Castle Rock.
Los Dos Potrillos Cocina y Cantina – Northglenn
While the Northglenn location is poised to be Los Dos Potrillos’ fifth, Luis prefers to call it the first of a new type of eatery to come.
The Cocina y Cantina, which is expected to open in a former Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q (100 E. 120th Ave.) in late October, will have a dining area, but operate counter service-style instead of like a seated restaurant. The menu showcases Los Dos Potrillos’ 50 bestsellers, including chile relleno nachos, a carnitas plate that’s currently a weekend specialty at other locations, and of course, tacos served on homemade tortillas. To sweeten the deal, it will serve free chips and salsa upon order, Daniel said.
Additionally, patrons will be able to order a rotisserie chicken meal that includes a whole bird plus rice, beans, tortillas and multiple salsas. Patrons who don’t want to dine onsite will be able to pick up their order at a drive-through window – to-go booze included, Daniel said.
The Cocina y Cantina will have a full bar, selling libations such as margaritas and Los Dos Potrillos original beer. And once the Ramirez brothers have a blueprint, they hope to expand rapidly.
“By the end of 2023 our goal is to have at least five locations ready to go. This is our first footprint. We’re anticipating it to get easier with each Cocina y Cantina going forward,” Luis said. “We’re going to try and open one every 30 days. And if we can get more efficient, we’ll try to do one every two weeks.”
Daniel and Luis are looking to expand the concept to northeast Colorado and into the Midwest to give folks further from the border “that true taste of Mexico,” Luis said.
The goal is to eventually reach 200-plus locations with help from their broker David Hicks & Lampert Brokerage, which has worked with brands like Shake Shack along the Front Range, Daniel added.
Los Dos Potrillos – Castle Rock
While the Ramirez brothers expand their fast-casual concept north, they plan to continue feeding taco and beer lovers to the south with a new brewery and restaurant Castle Rock.
The new location at 6372 Promenade Parkway will be the company’s biggest yet, with a 7,000-square-foot interior plus 1,800-square-foot patio the company is building from the ground up. The Ramirezes are building a brewery complete with an 8-barrel brew house, a large lagering tank and room for bottling and canning.
“The Mexican Lager is always running out because of the in-store demand. It’s hard for us to get that to other accounts,” Luis said. “Now with Castle Rock opening up, we’ll be able to provide Mexican Lager to our full-service restaurants and our other accounts.”
“I want to say we’re already at 300 barrels currently and with this new operation hopefully we can double that,” Daniel added.
The brewery currently boasts about a half-dozen styles, including a hazy India pale ale, a sour and several fruited recipes.
The Castle Rock restaurant will be full service and have the same menu as the existing locations. Daniel and Luis expect to break ground in September and are targeting a spring 2023 open date.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Ramirez brothers plan to expand the full-service Los Dos Potrillos, too, starting along the Interstate-25 corridor, with locations possibly in Monument, Colorado Springs and Pueblo, they said.