Tuesday, December 30, 2014

UPDATE: Phantom Canyon closed until mid-February

Posted By on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 4:53 PM

I just spoke to Lee Driscoll, chief executive officer of Breckenridge-Wynkoop LLC, the parent company to Phantom Canyon, who called to address the post below.

First to the real estate listing: Driscoll explains that BW owns 11 restaurants and brewpubs, with plans to construct "a really big one in Littleton" soon. In order to do that, he says BW decided to sell the real estate for six of its properties and lease them back on 20-year leases.

"This has no net effect on the business from a financial standpoint," he says, "but it allows us to monetize the real estate assets ... and grow our operations in terms of the number of restaurants — it's really a financial tool. There will be no impact on the operations whatsoever."  

Next to the big impact on operations in terms of the renovation: Driscoll says Phantom has been able to retain 50 percent of its staff through the closure, while the other half has indeed been laid off. They've been invited to reapply when Phantom reopens. 

But to address a big mistake below, "we won't pay anyone to work for us while they are filing from an unemployment claim. That's illegal. If you are laid off by us, you won't be paid by us. They are entitled to unemployment and we won't contest that."

He says "many will get hired back, a lot will probably find jobs in the interim and won't want to come back." 

Further elaborating, he says "the reason for the closure is really driven by the kitchen. It's the original and has been expanded over the years, but it has reached the end of its useful life. Sales are far in excess of what it was sized to do. ... The delay is you have to take all of the HVAC down, the hoods, all the equipment, the walls behind it must be replaced and the entire kitchen must be brought up to code. It's very costly and time-consuming."

That price tag will be around $1 million he says, to also include some new taps, furniture and a fresh coat of paint. "We'll still be Phantom Canyon. It's important to us to preserve its history. It's been very successful for 20 years, we want to upgrade and modernize it." 

—— ORIGINAL POST: 4:54 P.M., MONDAY, DEC. 29 —— 

Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.
has closed for renovations until mid-February, according to general manager Jenn Gleason. This comes after a brewery expansion that opened up significant new capacity for the outfit last year. 

Last week, Facebook hosted some heated chatter regarding staff layoffs during the closure. Gleason did not offer comment on this, nor did I receive a callback from a message left at parent company Breckenridge-Wynkoop.

click to enlarge From its Facebook page, Phantom's staff celebrates its Indy Best Of recognition. - COURTESY PHANTOM CANYON
  • Courtesy Phantom Canyon
  • From its Facebook page, Phantom's staff celebrates its Indy Best Of recognition.
I was also trying to inquire about a real estate listing with CBRE that shows Phantom, Breckenridge and Wynkoop properties for sale, to see if there was any connection. 

According to a mostly off-record chat with a person who wished not to be named — so do with this info what you will — the buildings are for sale, though the businesses are not. The company appears to be trying to free up some capital for other efforts. 

This person also noted that the company is trying to create some cleaning and training tasks to keep some money flowing to some employees, while not contesting unemployment claims to provide at least a portion of regular wages. 

Consider that servers and bartenders rely heavily on tips for their income, while kitchen staff will likely find it difficult to pick up interim work in a new kitchen.

Perhaps the best that can be said of the Facebook chatter is that captures some of the inherent frustration to what's obviously not an ideal situation — but is, apparently, what the remodel demands. 

It's very possible we're missing part of the story here, for obvious reasons. So if anyone on the inside cares to comment on this post to illuminate anything, feel free. 

Otherwise, for the average person who just wants to know when they'll be able to get back in to drink, you have your (tentative) answer. 

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