New Thunder & Buttons owners want it as nice as when they dated there
Eric Ivey and Heather Joffe took over as owners of Thunder & Buttons last September. If the Old Colorado City restaurant/ tavern hasn't seemed radically changed
in that time, that's by intent. The married couple had liked it pretty well the way it was.
“We used to come here when we were dating,” Heather explained.
“It was a good location and a fun place,” added Eric. “We always had a good time.”
For Heather, ownership was a logical outcome of 15 years in the restaurant business. “Instead of working for someone else, I can work for myself,” she said.
The previous owners were Jeff Mielke and his wife, Hillary Habeeb, who had bought T&B's from Barb Walker in 2008. Walker had restarted the business in 2005, using the same building at 2415 W. Colorado Ave. where the club had originally been from 1979 to 1991. (A pizza restaurant had operated there for a dozen of the years between '91 and '05.)
Eric, who still keeps his “day job” as a technician for Verizon, helps Heather out after hours. He doesn't mind so much. Asked if the business has worked out as well as he and his wife had hoped, he said, “Even a little better.”
They've kept most of the former staff, including chef Lars Seebohm - who had been part of Walker's original group in 2005. There also have been no changes to the club's two-story layout, just some new paint and a hardwood floor added upstairs.
And, the new owners are just fine with the club's carryover logo of a female aviator (Walker's creation - she was an Air Force Academy grad and a professional pilot), and at the same time aware of the actual Thunder and Buttons legacy (those were the names of the trained-elk wagon team that Prairie Dog O'Byrne raced through Colorado City during its saloon heyday of the late 19th century).
Formerly known primarily as a rock club, T&B's has undergone some musical changes. Heather and Eric said they are trying to bring in different genres, thus broadening the club's appeal. “We're seeing some new faces,” Heather said.
Overall, there's an ongoing effort to make sure the club is a “safe, fun place where people can hang out and have a good time,” as she put it.
Both owners are Colorado Springs transplants. They arrived here from different states just a year apart (1996 for Heather, '97 for Eric), a few years before they met.
Originally from Chicago, Heather also lived in Florida, but “I always wanted to go to Colorado,” she said.
Eric's initial home was Kansas, but he had childhood exposure to Colorado as a result of one of his divorced parents living in the Springs. “I loved it up here,” he recalled. “I moved here as soon as I could.”
In addition to making their business successful, the couple understands that the role of T&B's as a commercial attraction for Old Colorado City as a whole. So part of their effort involves working with the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group on marketing efforts. “The more people we have on the avenue, the better it is for everyone,” Heather said.
Westside Pioneer article