The kitchen and eating area at the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center are undergoing a renovation for a new type of establishment, opening in mid-March.
It's called Bean Sprouts. Shannon Seip and Kelly Parthen started the business 11 years ago, and they now have cafes in 12 tourist attractions in four states (mostly California). The slogan is “a hip and healthy café serving family destinations.”
Organic nutrition is the focus, augmented by a children's menu featuring unique food arrangements on plates. Examples are the “Do-Re-For-Me” (a sandwich that looks like piano keys) or the “Under the Sea-Za” (a pizza with black olives, red peppers and olives laid out to resemble fish swimming).
Adult items on the Bean Sprouts menu include “Hum Diggity” (an avocado hummus spread with vegetables and yogurt) and “Mona Cheesa” (mozzarella and feta cheese with spinach and artichoke). A pepperoni pizza is available too, although a “gluten-free” crust can be substituted, the menu notes.
Located at 1805 N. 30th Street, overlooking the famous city park, the Visitor Center is owned by the Garden of the Gods Foundation.
For most of its nearly quarter-century, the center has run a cafeteria for visitors, providing such traditional fare as burgers, hotdogs and chili.
But when Parthen (a Colorado Springs resident) came to the center with an offer, it seemed like a chance to “give renewed energy to our restaurant,” said Jan Martin, foundation president.
Contracting instead of self-managing reduces the responsibilities for center staff and should also be a “financial gain for us,” she predicted. And, Martin added, “We hope some locals will drop by and try it.”
Salvadoran cuisine arrives in OCC
Tim Hines, a major in the U.S. Army, met his future wife Monse, a native of El Salvador, when he was stationed in Germany and she was in a program to learn the language there.
It's the El Salvador part that people in Old Colorado City are discovering.
Featuring recipes from Monse's home town of Chalchuapa, her Pupuseria restaurant opened to customers in January.
The address is 115 S. 25th St., with indoor seating for about 40 people, plus an outdoor patio for another 100. The menu features pupusas - a traditional fresh-food Salvadoran dish wrapped in a thick tortilla - and other offerings indigenous to her homeland.
Located in a one-story building at the northeast corner of Cucharras and 25th streets, the eatery's front door (on the building's east side) can be accessed from Cucharras or the adjacent public parking lot.
Tim and Monse have been together for 13 years. In his military career (which has lasted 21 years in all, and he's still on active duty), “I've dragged her all over the world,” he joked.
Their entrepreneurship started seven years ago, marketing Monse's pupusas at farmers markets and (through wholesale distributors) groceries around the state under the name Monse's Taste of El Salvador.
Much of her cooking has occurred in Old Colorado City. This experience included involvement with Gotta Love It Kitchen, an effort by local cooks, bakers and farmers.
More recently, Taste of El Salvador was sharing the kitchen at 115 S. 25th with Food Designers, a catering business for more than 30 years. For about five years, the Darrigans, the business' most recent owners, had also run a jazz club, Motif, which has since relocated to the Cheyenne area.
When Food Designers left the 2,700 square-foot building at the end of 2017, it created an opportunity for Tim and Monse to open what may be the first Salvadoran-specializing restaurant in Colorado Springs. “We were growing out of our space,” Tim summarized. “We thought, 'Let's go for it.'”
The former Motif floor area and patio are where the restaurant is laid out; however, the couple lease the entire building. The kitchen is shared with Sweet Elizabeth Organic Bakery, owned by Elizabeth Durham. She subleases the space on the west side of the building, which has a storefront facing onto 25th Street.
Pupuseria (as well as Sweet Elizabeth) are open Wednesdays to Saturdays. The phone is 473-0877.
OCCA brings Mad Hatter to Old Town March 24
“Mad Hatter Saturday” will offer a variety of activities for the public throughout Old Colorado City Saturday, March 24.
The free, themed promotion is sponsored by the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Included will be costumed characters from Lewis Carroll's book, “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland”; a hat-making station; ice sculptors; and tea parties with the “red queen” (reservations necessary - call 577-4112).
There will also be a book sale at the Old Colorado City Library, 2418 W. Pikes Peak Ave.
In other OCCA news, the group's annual Taste of OCC, a fundraiser for Old Colorado City improvements, is planned for September this year. In past years, it has taken place in late April.
A new event, called West Fest, is in the planning stages and tentatively slated for June 17.
Store with 'Manitou' in its name now in OCC
Flooded out of its namesake, Safron of Manitou Springs moved to Old Colorado City in 2017.
The women's clothing shop is open Tuesdays to Sundays. According to owner Safron Neusaenger, customers can find “extraordinary clothing, jewelry, accessories, textile art and personal styling.”
The location, 2511 W. Colorado Ave., had been the home of the Flute Player Gallery for more than a quarter of a century before its owners retired and closed the business in early 2017.
With 23 years experience in all, Neusaenger had run her shop in Manitou for 13 years before heavy rains led to high waters in the town's streets several months ago. “I lost my storefront in Manitou Springs to floods,” she summarized.
For more information, call 237-2796 or e-mail email@example.com. The Facebook page uses the store name.
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