Restaurant plan taking shape for Roundhouse

       A plan is in the works to put a brewery/restaurant in the Roundhouse commercial center.
       Scott Koons, who co-founded the Colorado Mountain Brewery restaurant near the Air Force Academy last year, said he foresees the start of remodeling by February, with the doors opening to customers in June.

Seen looking south across Highway 24, the Roundhouse commercial center's landscaping had a decorative appearance Oct. 26 after the day-long snowfall. The north end of the buidling (at left) is the space that's been reserved for a restaurant since the Griffis/Blessing renovation project in 2009.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The chosen site is a currently vacant space at the north end of the Roundhouse, a semi-circular, quarried-stone building at 21st Street and Highway 24.
       “We're very excited about coming to the Westside,” said Koons, a Colorado Springs native who graduated from the Academy in 1993. “We want to be part of the community down there.”
       He added that he is rounding up investors to make the project a certainty, and in that effort “we're close to halfway there.”
       Steve Engel, president of Griffis/Blessing, the Roundhouse developer, said a lease has been signed, and he is encouraged by Colorado Mountain Brewery's efforts to assemble the necessary equity. Once that occurs, the project can go forward.
       “We're working cooperatively with Colorado Mountain Brewery to finalize all the necessary steps to bring it to the Round-house,” Engel said. “We think it would be a tremendous addition to the Westside. Their products and services will be welcomed. They'll have lots of customers that will love them.”

Part of the front facade of the current Colorado Mountain Brewery in northern Colorado Springs.
Courtesy of Colorado Mountain Brewery

       Originally built in 1887 as a repair facility for Midland railroad trains (whose tracks were where the highway is now), the Roundhouse was later owned by Van Briggle Pottery for almost half a century. That changed in 2009, when Van Briggle relocated south of downtown and Griffis renovated the roughly 30,000- square-foot building to allow multiple commercial units.
       Two principal businesses moving in since then have been Carmichael Training Systems and ProCycling, a retail bicycle store.
       In the renovation, Griffis earmarked the north part of the building, closest to the intersection, as an ideal site for a restaurant - including a concrete patio outside the north door. To date, however, no person or entity has been able to obtain the necessary capital - which Engel has previously estimated at half a million dollars or more - to absorb the start-up costs for a restaurant there.
       The Colorado Mountain Brewery restaurant in north Colorado Springs was built from the ground up, seeking a “Colorado look and feel,” as Koons put it. At the Roundhouse, his group plans to work with the existing stone exterior, although architectural designs call for the addition of a “sound wall” between the patio and the nearby highway.
       A feature of that wall would be a large outdoor fireplace built into it, visible from the patio as well as from the highway, he said.
       The restaurant's inside would include a brewery, with some 25 beers on tap and a full-service menu for lunch and dinner. Two fireplaces and a 2,500-square-foot mezzanine would add to the ambience in the overall 8,500 square-foot space.
       Following the theme of his current restaurant, the goal is to have the Roundhouse' Colorado Mountain Brewery “be about more than just our beer,” Koons said. “I have three young daughters, so I need to make it a family-friendly place, where people can feel comfortable taking their kids.”
       Anticipated maximum seating is 300 on the inside and 60 on the patio.
       Koons expects to have 50 to 60 employees.
       The appeal of the Roundhouse had its seeds in his childhood. Coming home on Highway 24 after trips to the mountains with his family, he remembers passing what was then Van Briggle and being struck by its unique style. “I had no idea I would ever open a restaurant there,” Koons laughed.
       The Roundhouse location also makes sense to him for current, pragmatic reasons. It's closer to where he lives, it's a location visible to tourists and easily accessible to residents in the southwest part of the city, and the building itself, with its high ceilings, “screams brewpub,” he said.

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