Garden of the Gods Gourmet's swank new spot and a new bbq truck 

Side Dish

After investing $14 million to launch The Pinery at the Hill last year, the Pinery Enterprises Hospitality Group has just spent around another $1.5 million to move the Garden of the Gods Gourmet Market & Café (godsgourmet.net) out of 2528 W. Cucharras St., and into the much larger, former Saigon Stars space at 410 S. 26th St.

That price tag reflects a complete overhaul of the spot, plus a move of catering functions to a nearby facility on Hagerman Street. The new location, which soft-opened in April, now features full breakfast and lunch service (with dinner service likely to follow later this year) in a dedicated and dapper dining room.

The other arm of the entity "feels like a cross between a Starbucks and a pastry area at a fancy bakery," says VP of marketing Lynn Schlemeyer. Grab-and-go items such as sandwiches, salads and baked goods are sold up to 7 p.m.; house-made casseroles, soups and the like join fine cheeses, accoutrements and gourmet meats procured from elsewhere in state. A Two Rivers Winery tasting room remains integral, and a juice bar will come soon.

The wine component in particular cements a Napa-esque vibe that's very intentional, says Schlemeyer. Director of food and beverage Larissa Vendola traveled with other staff to the famed California wine country to study its menus and style, and aims to achieve a similar, high-society mood at the market.

Menus overseen by executive chef Amy Fairbanks will remain fluid, drawing upon former favorites at Café 36 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center as well as the popular Dinner With the Chef series, which remains ongoing, as do cooking classes.

A tasteful tribute

As described on the website of Ernie's Smokin' BBQ & Catering (1169 N. Circle Drive, erniessmokinbbq.com), the business is named for owner Connie Brooks' son, who after serving in the Army started culinary school, then tragically had his life taken as a victim of a robbery. Ernie's, now a year old in the former Phat Hatties location, is "the restaurant he always dreamed of having," and it's expanding into food-truck service soon.

The Atlanta native, who honorably holds 30 years' barbecue experience, says she hasn't picked out a stationary spot, but will remain mobile, Thursdays through Saturdays, vending spicy Polish sausages, ribs, and pulled pork and beef brisket sandwiches. Only her popular "family packs" will remain restaurant-bound; those by-the-pound bundles start at $24.99 and include two pints of homemade house sides like cole slaw and the best-selling collard greens. Brooks makes her own rubs, smokes with a meticulous mix of woods, and concocts mild, medium and hot versions of a molasses-brown-sugar sauce.


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