by Bob Kennemer
LA VETA — “Every town needs a burger joint,” so says Scott Covington, managing partner of the recently formed venture Lokal Gives.org. a local business created by, run by, staffed by, and benefiting local nonprofits. La Veta’s Lokal Burger is just that, a burger joint and has been filling that niche for close to a year. Housed in what was most recently The Corners Diner, Lokal Burger is the latest in what has been a diner and/or a burger place for decades.
Covington, who is from La Veta, has 20 years of restaurant work under his belt, mainly in higher-end bars and restaurants. He explains, “We are doing our best to meet local needs. In this case providing high quality good basic food at affordable prices,” says Covington. The menu is just that, basic.
Lokal currently serves premium hot dogs, burgers, and sandwiches, along with fries or tater tots. Beverages include fountain drinks plus imported Mexican Coke and Dr. Pepper made with real cane sugar for the “purest” in you. Lighter fare is salads and a veggie burger. Made in-house, there are large chocolate chip cookies for dessert.
“We plan to expand the menu as we grow. Maybe adding pies. We are developing other recipes right now,” as he points to working the grill, which is manned by Matty C. Covington states, “I not afraid to say that Matty is way better than me in the kitchen. As a professional chef, he ups our game. He is creating our new Green Chili Popper Burger, which includes a beef patty along with a breaded green chili and cream cheese panko. Kind of like a jalapeño popper but with local ‘Pueblo’ green chilis. It explodes with hot flavor in your mouth.”
The man behind Lokal Burger and three other new “lokal” businesses is Jordan Bonicelli, whose family has been in Huerfano County since the late 1800s. Bonicelli has recently purchased and opened the Cuchara Inn, along with Lokal Perks, both in the village of Cuchara. He also just bought and reopened the La Veta Inn with reopening the bar and restaurant to soon follow. When asked why Lokal Burger decided to not serve breakfast and switch to a lunch and dinner menu Bonicelli replies with a one-word answer,” Staffing.” He adds that he does not want to offer more than he can deliver with any of his new ventures.
Covington explains he knows La Veta needs a breakfast eatery saying, “We might add some quick grab n’ go items like breakfast burritos and sandwiches.” Again, the goal is to move slow and do what they do well, then expand later. “We started out being open five days a week, and once we got that down we recently decided to stay open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” said Covington.
However, going slow does not mean standing still. As noted above, new menu items are under development. Says Covington, “Like our new red chili burger, which is our special today, topped with onion straws. We want to add weekly specials.” Another idea is to add outside dining in the green space behind the restaurant. The seating capacity inside is 26 but they can manage more. Obtaining a liquor license is also in the plan, however the nearby closed school campus is still zoned as a school. But the buildings are selling, and zoning changes will be needed to redevelop those structures into businesses.
Covington likes to brag about the premium hotdogs on the menu. “I source them from Bavarian Sausage Inc. out of Wisconsin. They have no fillers and are 60/40 beef and pork,” said Covington. He adds that he wants to use “lokal” beef for their burgers and have that processed at the new Highway 10 Meat Processing, east of Walsenburg once they receive their USDA certification.
The idea list goes on with hopes of even adding a food delivery service and a Banh Mi burger, based on a Vietnamese sandwich. Like Bonicelli, Covington stresses, “We don’t want to make promises only to break them because we didn’t do our research.” For now, one can dine inside at the corner of 701 Main and Grand Streets in La Veta, or, order online via an app called Toasttab. Call: 719-742-0296 and keep it “lokal.”