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Iron Bird expanding into pizza; Garden of the Gods Gourmet takes over at FAC 

Side Dish

Iron Bird build-out

Hey, look, another new brewery is already expanding. But 9-month-old Iron Bird Brewing Co. (402 S. Nevada Ave., ironbirdbrewing.com) will do something different than grow in barrel-size or fermenter count: It's expanding next door and adding a pizzeria soon.

By acquiring more than 2,000 square feet a door south, the outfit will literally double, and will also add on a $25,000 connecting-patio component with decking, turf, stadium seating and a fire-pit.

Co-owner Aaron Celusta says Iron Bird will serve a "high-end, craft, New York-style thin crust" pizza from a brick oven, in addition to salads, appetizers and pretzels with house-made beer mustards.

Celusta says the initial vision was to focus solely on beer, but the new space's availability ahead of the Blue Dot Place development compelled the team to think again. He emphasizes that no resources will be pulled from the brewing aspect — in fact, they will grow, in another atypical way. While places usually buy up in size, not down, Iron Bird will install a new one-barrel system to allow for a future experimental and barrel-aging program.

"If we brew a seven-barrel batch, it'll be on our menu for three weeks," Celusta explains. "This gets a beer in-and-out ... for a new beer every week."

New Taste at the FAC

Caterers have come and gone and even shared responsibilities at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (30 W. Dale St., csfineartscenter.org) over the last decade. One of those is Garden of the Gods Gourmet (godsgourmet.com), which has been on a tear since unveiling its cafe and market at 410 S. 26th St., and announcing a huge new facility at Briargate Parkway and North Powers Boulevard (see Side Dish, Nov. 19, 2014) that breaks ground July 5.

GOGG has now been granted the exclusive contract for the FAC, in tandem with the launch of a new cafe (in the former Cafe 36 spot) called Taste, to be open for lunch, brunch and pre-theater-dining hours as of Sunday, May 3. Company CEO Mitch Yellen says Taste's menu will be "comfort food with a gourmet twist," featuring entirely new selections and some best-selling items from the west side cafe.

Yellen says GOGG also recently pegged an exclusive contract with the Olympic Training Center, and that he anticipates growing from just over 100 employees company-wide now to around 220 by next spring — with plans for expansion northward along the Front Range not far behind.

He's so confident of GOGG's operating model that the company also plans to launch Altitude Hospitality within a month. That will be a customer-relations training arm to extend out of the restaurant industry and into any other area of service, including the medical realm, he says.

"They've looked at the success of The Pinery [which merged with GOGG in 2012]," he says, "and companies are lining up to talk with us."

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