Who is Walter?
Mike Kienast opened the original Walter’s Pizzeria in the Uptown neighborhood of downtown Denver in November 2010. It was a dream come true. 6 years and soon to be 3 locations later, we are often asked, “Who the hell is Walter?” The simple answer is…nobody; the long answer… is a bit more complicated.
While attending Air Academy High School in Colorado Springs, CO, Mike worked for ‘Pizza 4 U’, a family owned pizzeria run by Dave and Debby Hammet. After graduating Mike moved from Greeley to Denver to Boulder to Denver then to Tahoe and eventually back to Denver – all the while working at a variety of dining establishments to put himself through college. It was during this time he met his mentor and future business partner, who owned a variety of fast casual franchises and franchise concepts around the country. For years, Mike worked tirelessly to learn the business from the ground up. His goal was to one day start his own restaurant concept, which he always knew would be pizza!
Fast forward to 2005. Mike (aka Walter) met Jennifer, his now wife, while watching a Broncos game at the Uptown Tavern. By this time his dream of opening a pizzeria of his own was well established. For the first 3 years of their relationship, Mike and Jen would often discuss his pizza plans, to which Jen would always suggest the name “Walter’s”. Not once did Mike ask why. It was not until 4 years into their relationship (and during their engagement!) when the dream looked to become a reality that Mike finally asked, “Why do you want me to name the pizza place Walter’s?” Jen responded, “Duh, because it’s your middle name”. Mike’s response “Hello, my middle name is Wayne, it’s nice to MEET you”. And with that, Walter’s Pizzeria was born – “Your neighborhood pizzeria”, where they may or may not know your name.
In preparation for their 3rd location, Mike sought to trademark Walter’s, only to discover it was unavailable. Not wanting to let go of the name they sought a way to keep it as well as pay homage to the city and community that made a dream come true. Enter WALTERS303 Pizzeria & Publik House.
Peace and Pizzas!