The world of aviation is once again filling the iconic air traffic control tower building in Central Park with FlyteCo Tower bringing a passion for flight along with beer, food, bowling, and mini golf to 20,000 square feet of space.
The FlyteCo Tower team retained the six bowling lanes, an 18-hole miniature golf course on the patio, and some aviation-themed design elements from the previous tenant, Punch Bowl Social. New elements come from a partnership with Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, with plans to show model planes, aviation equipment, and flight plans. A scale model of a donated Wright Brothers plane is suspended from the mezzanine. A 60-foot-long timeline on the first floor tells the history of aviation in Colorado.
“Every few months we’re going to receive a new installation from Wings Over the Rockies,” says Morgan O’Sullivan, co-owner of FlyteCo Tower. “As people continue to come in, the space is going to evolve around them. It’ll really give people a sense of ‘place’ of what their community was before.”
The passion for aviation, which comes from co-owners and private pilots Eric Serani and Jason Slingsby, extends not only to décor, but to giving back. Ten percent of profits benefit aviation through scholarships, donations to youth engagement, and veteran-focused organizations, something they established with FlyteCo Brewing, their location at 30th and Tennyson. The giving will continue with FlyteCo Tower.
In a move not typical of other breweries, doors open at 7am with a coffee bar and grab-and-go breakfast items until 2pm. Then, bar and full food service begins for the rest of the day. The coffee shop concept was born out of Covid when Serani, Slingsby, and O’Sullivan tried to figure out how to help FlyteCo Brewing survive in early 2021.
The concept was a big success, with people using the space for remote work starting with coffee in the morning, moving into lunch in the afternoon, and staying for a beer later in the day.
“It turned into an all-day community gathering space,” says O’Sullivan. “So, one of the initial thoughts when we looked at the tower is that the coffee shop had been so successful, we wanted to bring it here. It allows us to open our space to the community.”
Beyond the aviation theme and entertainment aspects of FlyteCo Tower, food and drink are very intentional. “We’re focusing on classic Americana food including burgers, sandwiches, pizza, and salads, with healthy options in every category—being respectful of dietary restrictions as well, such as having gluten-friendly options.”
In addition to FlytCo’s own beers, they’ll feature Colorado and regional breweries, plus a full program of wine and spirits.
To encourage guests to move freely around the restaurant, FlyteCo Tower uses a hybrid service model with servers or a QR code system.
“You can start downstairs, go outside and play mini golf, then go bowling. By scanning the QR code at your new location, the tab moves with you and updates your food and drink delivery location,” O’Sullivan explains. “There’ll always be a person talking you through the process and to assist you. But it gives you more opportunity to get what you need when you need it.”
O’Sullivan sees the system as a big benefit for parents. “I have two small children, and when it’s time to leave a restaurant, I probably should have left 10 minutes earlier. With our system, your credit card will already be on file and accessible on your phone. So you can close out your account when you want.”
FlyteCo all started with college friends Serani and Slingsby, who shared a love of aviation and an interest in making beer sparked by the gift of a beer-making kit on Serani’s 21st birthday. The friends dove into understanding what went into the beer-making process and began developing recipes. New to Denver, O’Sullivan moved in next door to Serani and they started brewing beer in the backyard as a hobby.
“I started inviting friends over to enjoy the beer and have little backyard barbecues with a real casual format. It got pretty popular,” says O’Sullivan. “We grew from 20-person parties to, at its peak, hosting up to 250-person events in our backyard… The whole goal was to hone our craft and have a good time with family and friends. Enough of them kept saying ‘Wow, this is really good. You should do it for a living.’ We were crazy enough to listen.”
Fast forward to 2019 when the three friends opened FlyteCo Brewing. They began looking for a second location and, in 2021, had the opportunity to tour the former control tower. Although excited by the possibilities of the location, it was also daunting, being five times the size of anything the team had done so far. Because they were taking over a previous restaurant though, no major construction was required. They did paint, redecorate, and add equipment and additional aviation elements throughout.
“This location provides such a unique opportunity in that the tower has been here for a long time and belonged to the community long before we set foot in it,” says O’Sullivan.” We want to be good stewards of the building.”
Front Porch photos by Steve Larson