Oblio's regularly hosts events that let young customers meet Disney princesses, superheroes and other beloved characters.

Oblio's Pizzeria / Facebook

Kid-Friendly Pizzeria Seeks Silent Partner to Save the Business

Despite a 25-year track record of success, the women-owned Oblio's Pizzeria in Denver has struggled since reopening for dine-in as the pandemic subsided.

  • Oblio’s Pizzeria opened in 1996 as a family-friendly neighborhood pizza shop and thrived until the pandemic hit in 2020.
  • Morgan McKay and her mother, Dawn McKay, are looking for a silent partner who can buy Dawn out and let Morgan continue to run the restaurant. 

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The mother-and-daughter owners of Oblio’s Pizzeria, a 25-year-old, family-friendly institution in Denver, Colorado, said they need to find a silent partner to stay in business in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oblio’s, owned by Morgan McKay and her mom, Dawn McKay, has catered to families and kids in Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood since 1996. It’s known for hosting meet-the-superhero and meet-the-princess events as well as Disney nights, bingo games and magic shows and classes. The menu features pizzas, sandwiches, pasta dishes, salads and items just for children.

As Westword reports, the shop was thriving before the pandemic. When Morgan and Dawn, closed the dine-in area and pivoted to carryout as the virus spread, they managed to hang on, hoping that customers would return in droves as the pandemic eased up and the restaurant fully reopened.

But that hasn’t happened. “I don’t know if people were so sick of pizza because it’s all they ate during the shutdown, but people just never came back,” Morgan told Westword.

Kids can meet everyone from Wonder Woman to Spider-Man at Oblio’s Pizzeria in Denver.

In November of last year, a GoFundMe campaign, which is still active, raised close to $40,000 for Oblio’s, falling short of the $50,000 goal. That money was used to service equipment, make vital repairs and pay overdue bills. Now the money is mostly gone, and the restaurant’s sales have decreased by $200,000 compared to previous years. Meanwhile, soaring ingredients costs and higher wages have also taken a toll on Oblio’s. “We tried to raise our prices, and people were not happy,” Morgan said. “When fine dining goes up, it’s OK, but people don’t want to pay more for pizza.”

Morgan, who is a single mom, said she is looking for a silent partner who will buy out her mother, who is 70 and suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, and let Morgan continue to run the pizzeria. Dawn’s personal money is tied up in Oblio’s, so she can’t retire until she sells her share of the business.

Morgan was 10 years old when her mother and father opened Oblio’s, which was the neighborhood’s only pizzeria at the time. She grew up working in the restaurant, starting out as a dishwasher and moving on to baking pies and serving customers. When her parents divorced, a close family friend bought Oblio’s and ran it for years before selling it back to Morgan and her mom. Dawn had to take out a second mortgage on her house to buy the restaurant.

“A lot of people are saying they have heard amazing things about us and they’re sad we’re closing,” McKay told Westword. “But there are a lot of people in the neighborhood that haven’t given us a chance, [and] now it’s a little too late. But, hopefully, it’s not really too late.”