Ranch House opening
Healthy food goal at former Hungry Farmer

       Mike Callicrate and Ken King were proudly showing a visitor the organic certification on ingredient containers at their soon-to- open Ranch House American Grill and Market when suddenly, to their horror, they noticed a set of “normal” baking powder cans including preservatives like sodium aluminum sulphate. Mike Callicrate (left) and Ken King, co-owners of the Ranch
House American Grill and Market, stand in front of the
recently updated sign (for 38 years it said “Hungry 
Farmer”). Although the building retains the original 
barn-style appearance, the building’s interior has been 
completely remodeled. A Sept. 5 opening day is planned.
Westside Pioneer photo
       King, the restaurant's general manager, instantly whisked the errant cans off the shelf. It was probably just an ordering oversight by an employee, he said. Not many restaurant workers have experience in an all-organic house. “We have to spend time and money retraining them,” he said.
       Such attention to culinary detail is what diners can expect on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5, when the Ranch House plans to open for business, King and Callicrate indicated in a recent interview.
       The site is 575 Garden of the Gods Road, home of the former Hungry Farmer restaurant.
       Both owners are long-time advocates for healthier prepared food. Callicrate, a Kansas rancher, owns Ranch Foods Direct in Colorado Springs, a market he started in 2002 that provides natural beef and other fresh food from ranchers and farmers without having to pass through a processing “middle man.” He has even gone to court against corporate meat-packing businesses, which he accuses of price-fixing and increasingly using harmful synthetic compounds to force leaner meats from cattle.
       King was the food service designer for numerous area restaurants, including the Cliff House and Marigold Café. In addition to consulting work, he was teaching part-time at Pikes Peak Community College before he took on the full-time job running the Ranch House. “I believe in what we're doing here,” he said. “Most other restaurants have no integrity. They buy cheap ingredients. It's just a business venture to them.”
       And how about taste? “It'll be like eating at grandma's,” Callicrate said, “wholesome, good and made with love.”
       Accor-ding to a Ranch House press release, “The Western American re-gional menu will highlight fresh ingredients sourced as close as possible to the kitchen and special creative flourishes such as made-from-scratch beef demi-glazes. Menu highlights will include smoked salmon on alderwood plank, a dish derived from the area's Native American history, a beer broth buffalo chili and sharp cheddar cheese fritters.”
       The business will be open daily for lunch and dinner.
       The Hungry Farmer, which pre-dated the many fast-food stops along Garden of the Gods Road, went out of business in 2003. After nearly being razed to make room for another fast-food place, the property was purchased by Callicrate last year. The redevelopment of the site over the past several months has retained the famous Hungry Farmer barn-style exterior and windmill/ sign, while gutting the interior and creating space for a new kit-chen, dining area seating up to 350 people, and a meeting room with modern audio-visual capabilities that can hold up to 130.
       In addition, the building will include an organic bakery offering pastries and bread from handmade starter doughs, an on-site market with a wide selection of beef and other organic food offerings.
       And definitely no aluminum in the baking powder.

Westside Pioneer article