Ranch Steakhouse staying natural
Callicrate departure won’t change ‘concept’

       The Ranch Steakhouse and Market has changed its ownership structure, but not its pledge to provide all-natural foods, according to its executive chef, Richard Hero.
       The switch occurred last week when Mike Callicrate, who founded the business in the former Hungry Farmer restaurant site at 575 Garden of the Gods Road 1 ½ years ago, broke off with his majority partner, Neil McMurry of Wyoming.
       “My partner and I didn't agree on the concept for the restaurant,” said Callicrate, whose Ranch Foods Direct had been supplying the meat for the restaurant. “Essentially, he owned the building, and I was unwilling to compromise on our company's pledge and purpose, so the relationship is ending.”
       According to Hero, however, nothing has changed except the restaurant's meat supplier. “Just because Mr. Callicrate isn't here, it doesn't mean we're not holding to his concepts,” he said. “All our meat is natural, hormone-free and antibiotic-free.”
       Even the vegetables and desserts are untreated, he said - “No MSG is used here.”
       The split occurred when McMurry told Callicrate his meat had gotten too expensive and he was going to start buying and butchering elsewhere. Callicrate has personal reason to be displeased that the butcher is Iowa Beef Processors (IBP) - part of the Tyson meatpacking conglomerate he had sued in the late '90s in an effort to promote his beliefs in untreated meat.
       Hero emphasized that IBP is only cutting the Ranch Steakhouse meat, not putting additives into it. He described the new supplier, Stockyard Beef from Denver, as “outstanding. It's Colorado-raised natural beef. I get to choose the cows.”
       Ranch Foods Direct, 2901 N. El Paso St., is a market Callicrate started in 2002 that provides untreated meat from area ranchers and farmers. Among his customers are close to 50 local restaurants, including several on the Westside.
       A Ranch Foods Direct market had also existed as part of the Ranch Steakhouse operation. It shut down last week, and is to be replaced with a restaurant bar.
       Customers can anticipate a new menu soon with slightly lower prices, Hero said. The restaurant name will also change, but no decision has been finalized on that.
       Although the restaurant-market made $2.5 million its first year - which Callicrate described as “phenomenal” - the earnings apparently weren't enough to satisfy his former partner, he said.
       “I'm very disappointed,” Callicrate said. “So much work went into that.” However, he added, “I hope 10 new doors will open with this one that closed.”

Westside Pioneer/press release