After opening and suspending service several times over the last 13 months, Smokin’ Bowls’ owner, Sean Gafner, is hoping he has seen the last of the pandemic shutdowns for his three restaurants.
Smokin’ Bowls, located at 499 Main St., is a quick serve restaurant that is traditionally open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This week, the lunch hangout announced they are once again ready to serve Longmont from their revised menu.
The restaurant had just opened in autumn of 2019 before shutting down during the widespread quarantine of March 2020.
“We were open about six months, shut down for four, opened for three, then closed for another five. Now we’re open again so long as everything stays healthy,” Gafner said.
Gafner, who also owns , Jefe’s and The Roost with wife and business partner Rebecca, started Smokin’ Bowls to provide a quick option for fresh, local food on Main Street. The plan is to keep the location to lunch service only for the indefinite future.
“It’s always been more of a lunch place, and mostly takeout and delivery in the evenings” Gafner said. “That’s a lot of labor, so we’re really just running it with the kitchen manager and our family right now.”
Gavin Stilts of Longmont’s Circle Graphics said he and his coworkers have eaten there nearly every day,since day one.
“It’s like my home away from home,” Stilts said. “I fell in love with this small town, locally owned spot with fresh food. I love the sense of camaraderie right here on Main Street.”
Being closed gave the team time to tweak some recipes like their ramen broth and other bowls in the interim.
“I went to twenty of the best ramen places I could find in Japan to really dial in these recipes,” Gafner said.
During the pandemic, Jefe’s was the only one of Gafner’s three restaurants to stay open consistently. With the Roost reopening a couple months ago, Smokin’ Bowls was the last piece of the puzzle for Gafner and his team.
“With all the restaurants we took the time to fix things up with the businesses. We painted the interiors, freshened up the menus. We wanted to open back up better than ever,” Gafner said. “I’m more excited today for all the food, the staff and the buildings at all three places than I’ve ever been. I feel like now, six years in, we’re hitting our stride and it feels awesome.”