Idea for Family Friendly Beer Garden/Restaurant in Eastbridge Gains Traction
The lonely stretch of dirt just west of Havana, aka the Eastbridge Town Center, has been the subject of many conversations as the years have gone by with no development there. Nearby residents envision not just stores, but locally owned small businesses where neighbors can gather—places that foster a sense of community. A recent poll of 1500 residents by Stapleton United Neighbors showed 85% to be “very interested” in a natural grocery store and 68 percent very interested in a brewery/beer garden (see other results on page 28).
Maybe it should come as no surprise that the business idea now taking hold comes from a social-worker-turned-business-person who is combining the best of the business world with his commitment to give back to the community.
Stapleton resident Mark Shaker, together with business partners and fellow Stapleton residents Lorin Ting and Megan Von Wald have spent over a year talking to neighbors to come up with their business plan.
“I was looking for some sort of interesting restaurant concept. Something that would be inspired by the community. I’ve read the Green Book and I’m familiar with what the vision was for Stapleton and was thinking it would be really great to have some locally inspired and interesting concepts that would bring something to Eastbridge. For me it sat there vacant for way too long. The whole concept was trying to put together something that had a long view…of being not just a dining establishment but something that really gave back to the community.
“My background is not in food and beverage. I am a social worker by training and have done non-profit work for the last 15 or so years. So having a community element and having some sort of charitable component was also a driving force.”
Shaker’s idea is a family friendly beer garden with flair. And to give back to the community they would have a “charity of the month” that could use their event space for a fundraiser and the restaurant would give a certain amount of the proceeds to the charity that month. They would also have a first jobs program and they have already talked to City Councilman Chris Herndon about that idea. They would offer jobs to kids in surrounding neighborhoods, put money toward a college fund, and partner them with a mentor who would help them prepare for their future.
Shaker called a friend who is in the restaurant business in Chicago to learn more about the restaurant industry as he worked on the business plan with Von Wald, whom he met when they were both in an MBA program five years ago. His Chicago friend had been a sous-chef to Kevin Taylor, whose business, Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group, manages multiple high end restaurants in and around Denver.
Shaker says he realized he didn’t know anything about the restaurant business, “but we know the demographics, we know the location, we know the people and there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to support that this would really work.”
Shaker and partners met with Kevin Taylor, explained their concept, showed him possible locations, and discussed the logistics of starting a restaurant in the Stapleton area.
Taylor offered to partner with the group and felt the project was fun, had great energy, and would be a new direction from his other higher end restaurants. Taylor will manage the restaurant.
Shaker and his partners started talking to Forest City in May and presented their initial concept in July.
“We have architectural drawings, we have a Park Hill architect, and Kevin Taylor was at the meeting with us. We showed them our architectural designs and ideas. We had engineering drawings and plot plans of what it would look like. We laid out our concept and business plan.
“They were very supportive of our idea. They said they thought we were well prepared. They loved the combination of local inspiration and community owned, but then also professionally managed by Kevin Taylor.”
Shaker and his partners were informed that Forest City would not start developing the Eastbridge location until an anchor tenant was secured.
“This project is not something we’re looking to do anywhere outside of Stapleton. We want to do it here. We live here,” says Shaker. “We’re ready and look forward to working with Forest City after they secure their anchor tenant.”
Forest City, when asked for additional information about this potential business for Eastbridge, replied that there is nothing more to report at this time.
The “working name” of the business is Flightline and additional information can be found at http://flightlinestapleton.com/. The parcel of land they hope to purchase is the triangle shaped piece at the far west end of the Eastbridge Town Center.
Petition for Grocer in Eastbridge
Stapleton resident Juli Pearson wrote a statement about the kind of development local residents would like to see in Eastbridge and posted it at Change.org where 674 signatures had been registered at the time the Front Porch went to press.
The title of the petition is “Forest City, King Soopers, Stapleton MCA: Work together to create a pedestrian friendly 2nd Town Center (in Eastbridge) to include a natural foods market and authentic retail/restaurant amenities as well as community gathering space.” Click here to link to the petition. Pearson invites residents to review the contents and add their names if it is something they support.
City Council Update from Councilman Herndon
This is the time of year City Council reviews and votes on the city’s budget submitted to them by the mayor. “Over the past few years we’ve cut approximately $550 from the general fund each year,” says Councilman Herndon. “This is the first year we have not had any cuts to our general fund. Last year we had to cut $100 million from the budget. Revenues have come in higher than expected, as well as the passage of 2A, the de-Brucing of our property taxes, that has allowed for additional revenue to come to the city.”
City council has been considering a five cent charge for plastic bags in grocery stores but has decided to put off the final vote until December 6. Herndon says public comment split about 50-50.
Herndon himself opposes the fee and believes that people who live near city borders may choose to shop outside of Denver as a result of the tax. He also thinks bag use can be decreased through public education and incentives without charging a fee.
Stapleton Section 10 Planning
Planning is just beginning for the farthest north section of Stapleton—the 600-acre parcel of land that borders the Rocky Mountain Arsenal where approximately 2000 residences will be built. At the November Zoning and Planning Committee meeting, representatives from Forest City, Commerce City, Adams County, the Arsenal and Montbello will meet to discuss impacts of the development on surrounding areas. The public meeting will be at 4:30pm on Nov. 12 at the Stapleton Foundation, 7350 East 29th Ave., Suite 300.