Despite the “skeletal” look of the old airport control tower, construction is now proceeding apace, according to Robert Thompson, founder and CEO of Punch Bowl Social. “We had a lot more demolition that was required on the project than was initially anticipated,” said Thompson. “The city deemed the floors structurally unstable for our use and required we demo out the floors.” Thus, the striking appearance of the building, which appears to be wholly supported by vertical beams as of this writing.
“It would have been immeasurably more simple to have leveled the entire building and start over,” said Thompson, “but we took this assignment very seriously when the city asked us to do it … this was an opportunity for us to give back to Denver and Colorado.”
Part of the challenge of the project has been to juxtapose the old and the new, a “distinctive but complementary” arrangement that will preserve the structure of the old control tower while adding 5,000 square feet of modern space to the base of the building. The upside of the continuing demolition is that the nagging graffiti problem is remedied on an ongoing basis.
The additional work has been factored into the plans and the budget, with the restaurant/bowling alley/bar slated to open by the end of June or early July, said Thompson, much to the excitement of the surrounding community. “My kids think I’m a celebrity,” said Thompson, a Lowry resident who is regularly approached at the grocery store by neighbors eager to know when Punch Bowl Social will open.
And as a family man, Thompson appreciates the needs of the Stapleton neighborhood. “It’s rowdy at a Punch Bowl at brunch, it’s loud,” says Thompson. “If you have a couple of loud kids like mine—I have a 3½-year-old and an 18-month-old—you can’t have a calm meal, ever.” He anticipates that many local families will be drawn to the entertainment complex during the day and early evening hours, when the hubbub of Punch Bowl Social will drown out the noise of their children.
Plans also include a 14,000-square-foot outdoor activity area, with bocce, hopscotch and other games for kids and an outdoor “flex space” that can host weddings and rehearsal dinners for hipster millennials or anyone else who fancies a party under the iconic control tower, with a mountain view and the ambient sound of bowling balls crashing into pins amid the peals of children.