5 years later – ‘Farmer’ building razed
Chick-Fil-A to take place of once-renovated restaurant landmark on Garden of the Gods Road
Five years ago, the former Hungry Farmer restaurant building was nearly torn down to make way for fast-food.
Last week it actually happened.
Contractors for the Atlanta-based Chick-Fil-A fast-food chain were nearly done scraping the 1.84-acre site at 575 W. Garden of the Gods Road by the middle of this week, with construction to begin soon and a store opening expected this fall.
According to plans approved by City Land Use, there will be a 4,596-square-foot drive-through facility with 138 seats indoors, plus a 350 square-foot outdoor area with seating for 20.
The restaurant will employ between 55 and 65 people, according to Brenda Green of Chick-Fil-A public relations in Atlanta.
The proposal had first come to the city late last year. This spring, the city posted the proposal on the site, which has been vacant for about a year and a half, and sent explanatory postcards to nearby addresses. No adverse comments came back, according to city planner James Mayerl.
With its 11,700-square-foot barn-style building and 30-foot sign topped by a small windmill, the independently owned Hungry Farmer had been a landmark for nearly 35 years before closing in 2003. In mid-2004, based on a tentative proposal, the city posted the building for demolition and replacement “with two fast food pad sites,” but a Wyoming investor fronted by Ranch Foods Direct owner Mike Callicrate came forward instead with a plan to keep the barn-style exterior, rebuild the interior with a new kitchen, meat shop and seating areas and redo the parking lot. The Ranch Steakhouse opened in late 2005. But in early 2007 Callicrate left in protest over what he deemed lowered quality standards, and a restaurant under a different name (Fire Rock Grill) lasted until early 2008.
Asked if Chick-Fil-A had considered retaining any of the Steakhouse improvements, Green said it is company policy to build “from the ground up,” including the parking lot, unless there are city codes that might require otherwise.
The city did insist on certain levels of landscaping, retaining a hiking trail at the rear of the property and, in the interests of safety, eliminating parking at the north end of the site and removing a holdover traffic island at the main entrance off Garden of the Gods Road.
Like its predecessor restaurants at the site, Chick-Fil-A will bring attention to itself with a tall, freestanding sign. The new one will be taller, however, attaining the maximum city-allowed height of 40 feet, plans show.
Chick-Fil-A, which is known for closing on Sundays and featuring ads with cows that urge people to “eat mor chikin,” has four stores currently in Colorado Springs. The company website explains that the business was started by Truett Cathy in Hapeville, Ga., in 1946. He is “credited with inventing the boneless breast of chicken sandwich,” and in the 1960s expanded his enterprise into a chain that initially focused on suburban malls, the website states.
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