La Rola makes its home in Littleton

Mother-daughter-sister team serves Colombian cuisine with a side of cordiality

Rachel Lorenz
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 10/25/22

After time in a food truck, a Denver food hall and two cloud kitchens, the owners of La Rola Colombian Kitchen are pleased that their move to Littleton lets them focus a little more on customer …

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La Rola makes its home in Littleton

Mother-daughter-sister team serves Colombian cuisine with a side of cordiality

Posted

After time in a food truck, a Denver food hall and two cloud kitchens, the owners of La Rola Colombian Kitchen are pleased that their move to Littleton lets them focus a little more on customer experience. 

The new counter-service restaurant opened between Piccino Wood Oven Pizza and The Lost Cajun in the Shops at Riverbend commercial center on Sept. 21. While La Rola still offers fan favorites like empanadas, arroz con pollo and Colombian-style hot dogs, it has also expanded its menu to include Bandeja Paisa, a feast-of-a-dish that the staff just didn’t have space to prepare before.

But more than elbow room, La Rola’s owners now have agency over the environment in which their cuisine is served and how they connect with guests.

“We’ve really created an atmosphere where people can come in and feel like they are coming to their auntie’s house,” Karen Martinez told Colorado Community Media.

Martinez and her sister, Andrea Martinez, and their mother, Maria Teresa Garzon, started sharing food from their Colombian homeland professionally with Coloradans five years ago. But their previous service models didn’t allow them to control the ambience or interact with customers as much as they wanted to, Martinez said.

Now with warm lighting, a smattering of plants and modern Latin music in the background, La Rola Colombian Kitchen emits a comfortable vib. A brightly-painted box, handmade by Martinez’s father, beckons folks to play la rana, a traditional ring-toss game. Employees bring orders from the kitchen to diners’ tables and often take a moment to chat with them — and if it’s going to take more than a minute to catch up, they might even sit down.

“That’s something that we’re very grateful for because we felt like there was that disconnection before,” Martinez said. “Like we just gave them their food and they left on their own and then we never saw them again.”

The team at La Rola’s, however, understands that sometimes you need good food fast. While renovating their new space before opening last month, Martinez said they noticed that a neighboring eatery had a lot of grab-and-go traffic at lunchtime. Hoping to help guests in a hurry, La Rola developed a quick lunch menu for their new restaurant.

On weekdays, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., customers can choose up to three entrees, two sides and a drink from La Rola’s lunch buffet. Prices range from $9 to $14.

“If you’re in a rush, you can pick any entree, any side and get going,” Martinez said.

So far customers have run the gamut from college students to retirees, and Martinez said they’re getting to know the people that live nearby.

“We’re just very happy to be in Littleton,” Martinez said. “It’s refreshing, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to be here.”

IF YOU GO

La Rola Colombian Kitchen is at 5350 S. Sante Fe Drive in Littleton. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sunday.

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