Basic Kneads Pizza closes its Golden restaurant on Saturday so it can focus on its food trucks

Joel and Christen Bakken have seen a lot of restaurants go out of business over the last couple of years — and the public postings “are always so tragic,” they said. So when it came time for the couple to post the news that their own place, Basic Kneads Pizza in Golden, would close its doors, they wanted to take a different approach, one filled with a little more joy.

“Big News: With some excitement, we are announcing that we will be closing our restaurant location … and continuing on with our mobile food truck and catering business,” they wrote on Facebook on June 27. “What can you do?! An ‘oh so sad’ comment on this post doesn’t do a lot for (us). (We’d) rather have you come out and support us. We’ve really tried to do something great for the community of Golden, and we have … and it’s not over yet!”

The Bakkens will close Basic Kneads, at 17525 S. Golden Road, on Saturday, July 2, just 2½ years after they opened the brick-and-mortar location of their 12-year-old, wood-fired pizza catering and food truck business. They will continue to operate their two trucks (mostly outside of breweries), and to operate their three mobile catering kitchens.

“It has just been too much for us. In every aspect of the service industry, you need to provide personalized attention in order for you to know that you are doing a great job. And I think when we opened the restaurant, we had to split our attention between the restaurant and our catering clients and our food truck locations and it was hard to bring 100 percent of our attention to any one of those directions or tasks,” Joel said.

“At the end of the day, the bottom line of owning a restaurant has changed,” Christen added. “All the effects of COVID have impacted us. We tried to hold out for quite awhile and say to ourselves that things will get back to normal one day and that people will come back in and we will be fine. But we haven’t come back to normal, and we realized that for our happiness, we would have to get back to the mobile business rather than continue with the restaurant.”

All of which is to say that “today is much easier than two months ago,” Christen said. “Once you declare it to everyone else, it’s mostly just a relief.”

The Bakkens started Basic Kneads with Joel’s two brothers in 2010 with just a mobile, wood-fired pizza oven that they hauled over to Great Divide Brewing. It was good timing, as the metro area’s brewery taproom boom kicked off that same year and the two industries, food trucks and breweries, grew hand in hand over the following decade.

Over the years, the company expanded, and In 2019, the Bakkens opened their Golden store — just 100 days before they had to close it in the face of the pandemic.

“We were always told that bigger is better. I don’t think that is the case anymore,” said Joel, adding that he is looking forward to getting back to close contact with his customers at breweries like Station 26, 4 Noses, Little Machine, Mountain Toad and Cannonball Creek.

Basic Kneads makes wood-fired pizza.“Had COVID not happened, it looks like it could have been successful. But things happened the way they did and the part of the business that still seems to be booming and healthy is the part we will move forward with,” Christen said. “ And we are so lucky that we have all those aspects of the business.”

“Culturally, we often view success as being forever. But a new way to look at success is to do what’s working while it works,” she added. “That doesn’t mean something was a mistake. Its just part of the story. Give yourself permission to try something. I didn’t fail. It just wasn’t a fit.”

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