Friday, October 6, 2017

Oskar Blues' craft empire announces Tejon Street opening dates

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 10:39 AM

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Oskar Blues Colorado Springs, located in the historic DeGraff building that used to house an Old Chicago, will hold its soft opening on Sunday, Oct. 8, at 4 p.m. The grand opening is slated for Saturday, Oct. 21, and according to general manager Brian Mark, the eatery will be distinct from existing Oskar Blues Fooderies locations.

“When I came onto this company, it was very important that I’d have a lot of creative freedom,” he says, and it looks like that’s what he, chef Eric Bowen and bar manager Devin Silk got. The menu’s “about 70 percent” the same as at OB’s Longmont restaurant, Home Made Liquids & Solids, heavily featuring OB Fooderies’ signature barbecue. But the rest of the menu is unique to the Springs eatery, mostly driven by Bowen.

“He’s a pretty eclectic guy,” says Mark. “For how experienced he is, you’d think he’s in his 40s, but he’s 28.” Bowen’s a Woodland Park native, recently returned from a cooking job in Ireland. One of his dishes that’s gotten Mark most excited is a pork belly beignet. Available Sundays, it’s a beignet stuffed with pork belly, onions and caramel.

“It’s a meat doughnut,” Mark says. “If you don’t like it, I don’t know what to say.” The whole of the menu won’t be indulgent madness along those lines, though. Mark also teases a smoked trout fish-and-chips plate, a muffuletta and seafood, including cockles and raw oysters.

As for alcohol, the spot will have no more than 12 of their 48 taps dedicated to Oskar Blues beers, according to Mark.

“Once we couldn’t [source] Colorado Springs [beers] anymore, we went to Colorado, and once we couldn’t do Colorado, we went to our favorite national beers,” says Mark. They don’t want to host flagship beers if they can avoid it, preferring instead to stock more obscure selections — “the best beer we think nobody knows about,” Mark explains. Plus, for macro-only drinkers, they’ll have one PBR tap.

That spirit of beer curation fits also with Silk's background. Before joining the OB team, he spent 13 years working at Old Chicago, most recently acting as beverage buyer and head bartender at their Commerce Center Drive location.

For spirits, they’ll stock locals 291, Axe & the Oak and Lee Spirits, to name a few, and their well-vodka will be Loveland-distilled Spring 44. Mark says he and Silk are building their cocktail program around local spirits, rather than finding local spirits to fit existing recipes.

“We’re making our own coffee liqueur out of [Oskar Blues-owned] Hotbox coffee,” he says, hinting also at a martini featuring smoked pink peppercorns and lavender Lee Spirits gin. In the future, they’ll also have spirits and canned cocktails from Spirits by Oskar Blues, the parent company’s yet-forthcoming distillery arm. For entertainment, there will be a bocce ball court, pool tables and a stage for live music.

“Our [music setup] is more like a 10-by-16 [foot] lighted corner that’s a stage,” Mark says, but it should provide another accessible spot for bands to play their first shows.

For the grand opening night, that stage will host locals Mark’s Midnight Carnival Show. They’ll also host a charity food and cash drive for Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado. Two cans of food or $2 donation gets customers their first pint of Oskar Blues flagship beer for free.

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