At a community meeting in October 2013, attendees applauded a presentation by Stapleton resident Mark Shaker to build a beer garden in Eastbridge—but they were not happy to hear Forest City wouldn’t sell the land until plans for the larger parcel (including a grocery store) were finalized.
Aurora planning staff saw the Front Porch article about that meeting and contacted Shaker and partners to see if they would consider locating their beer garden in Aurora. By May 2014, word was out that they would purchase Stanley Aviation and have not just a beer hall, but an entire marketplace with over 40 businesses in the 120,000+ sf space. Now, after an almost three-year journey, the beer garden and the marketplace are becoming realities.
The Stanley Beer Hall, opening in September, will pay homage to the history of the building and the former Stanley Aviation site. An old tank found in the building will be retrofitted with 30 tap handles to serve beer from a “tap tower.” The tap tower will stand behind an S-shaped bar near the multi-story west window to serve patrons both inside and out. A row of original electrical boxes will decorate the north wall—and new long tables, custom designed by a nearby craftsman, will encourage guests to meet new friends and gather with old ones.
The old brick walls stand next to new south-facing sliding glass doors—and an assortment of tools and equipment found during renovation hang from the ceiling. A new insulated roof keeps the space cool in the summer and warm in the winter—and a mural commemorating the historical use of the building will greet visitors on a long wall as they enter. The mural is yet to be designed, but Shaker, part owner and spokesperson of Stanley Joint Venture (JV), says when they make decisions about Stanley Beer Hall, they keep in mind that Bob Stanley was an innovator and they want to incorporate elements that lend interest and unexpected surprise to the beer hall based on the building’s history.
Numerous changes have taken place as Stanley has evolved…one of them being that the operator of Stanley Beer Hall will be 5280 Hospitality. Park Hill resident Dustin Skudlarek, owner of 5280, has been in the business for 18 years. He has launched 15 new concepts and has personally launched 60 restaurants. His company operates restaurants for owners and works as a consultant with struggling or brand new restaurants.
Skudlarek’s vision is to move away from the traditional Germanic style beer hall and pay homage to Colorado and the West. The food will focus on organic, locally sourced ingredients. In the future he wants to have a wood roaster outside for pig roasts—and they expect to offer some “grandiose” options to be shared by groups of 4 to 6. Although the menu is not yet final, most lunch prices are expected to range from $7 to $13 and dinner from $12 to the low $20s.
A rotating selection of about 30 product lines of craft beer from Colorado and the US will be offered along with other options including mix and match buckets of canned beer. Beer brewed by Casita Brewing Company, located about 15 feet from Stanley beer hall, will be among the selections. At Stanley Marketplace, cooperation among businesses is a key part of the vision. Skudlarek says they will produce all their own menu items, but they will get ingredients from other Stanley businesses such as meat from the butcher for their homemade sausage and dough for pretzels from Rosenberg bagels.
Skudlarek has planned an open design so diners can see what they’re doing in the kitchen— their cleanliness, energy and professional execution.
The large indoor space and two outdoor patios (south and west) will accommodate up to 150 diners inside and 150 outside (about double the size of the Lowry beer garden). Seating choices include community tables, banquettes, four-top tables and bar stools. A live indoor tree will have bar type seating around the planter. The tree and a huge original garage-style door will merge the indoors and the outdoors—and an outdoor grass area will offer a place for children to play.
Businesses at the Stanley Marketplace are arranged to capture the natural sunlight during the busiest part of their day, with restaurants that serve breakfast situated with east-facing windows. The Stanley Beer Hall is located in the southwest corner of the building by the south entrance, one of five exterior entrances to the Stanley Marketplace.
Stanley will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week and offer both an early and a late happy hour menu. Skudlarek says he’ll personally be there full time for the first 3 – 6 months, adding “I’m putting my heart and soul into making sure this is a great hit.”
For more information about The Stanley Beer Garden, please visit www.stanleymarketplace.com