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Oskar Blues Considers Fort Collins

Longmont-based Oskar Blues Brewery, just six months after opening a restaurant on the southern edge of Longmont, is considering opening another — most likely in Fort Collins.

“This year is starting off with a bang,” said Dale Katechis, founder of Oskar Blues.

In early February, Oskar Blues’ architectural design firm submitted a conceptual review application to the city of Fort Collins for a remodel of 350 Linden St., a 101-year-old building called the Union Pacific Freight Depot, according to city documents.

The application proposes a 300-seat restaurant in the 6,600-square-foot space that is vacant.

“The Fort Collins thing, it’s become quite a buzz up there in the market,” Katechis said. “It’s a little premature. We have submitted plans, but we haven’t secured the site yet.”

Katechis and other Oskar Blues officials are in discussions with the building’s owner on a lease and remodel of the property. The Kluver-Moore Foundation is listed as the property’s owner, according to Larimer County Assessor records.

The prospect of Oskar Blues opening a third restaurant comes on the heels of the company, known for its canned craft beers, seeing triple digit revenue growth last year. It also recently announced plans to add two more 200-barrel fermenters to its Longmont brewery, bringing annual brewery output to 40,000 barrels.

If the talks in Fort Collins work in Oskar Blues’ favor, Katechis said the brewery would move forward with creating a “craft beer bar” and restaurant reminiscent of the Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids & Solids restaurant that opened in Longmont in October. That establishment has 43 craft beers — most of which are hard-to-find — on tap, southern-style food, a host of random adornments on the walls and a neighboring silo repainted as a beer can and filled with a handful of video games and pinball machines. Oskar Blues also continues to operate its original location in Lyons.

If Fort Collins doesn’t pan out, Katechis said he would move forward with a property he has eyed in Boulder.

However, he added, Oskar Blues is fairly far along in the due diligence process for the Fort Collins building.

“(A Boulder restaurant is) an option, but right now, we’re taking it one at a time,” he said. Katechis declined to discuss further specifics of a potential Boulder location.

The microbrewery-friendly city of Fort Collins and the building itself were attractive to Oskar Blues, said Tim Trapp, founder of Trapp Associates Ltd., a Boulder-based restaurant designer that is heading up Oskar Blues’ latest endeavor. The former depot has a “unique personality” to it, with its turn-of-the-century architecture and history as a train depot.

“We all feel pretty strongly about Fort Collins,” Trapp said. “It’s right down the street from New Belgium (Brewing’s) campus … Gee whiz, we sort of sheepishly grin, you’d have to go past us to get to them.”

The restaurant would be three-tenths of a mile southwest of New Belgium’s 500 Linden St. site.

The restaurant also would fill a building that from 1992 to 1995 housed New Belgium’s then under 40-employee operation, said Bryan Simpson, spokesman for New Belgium.

“I surely do think there’s plenty of room (for another brewpub),” he said of Oskar Blues, a “friend” that helped New Belgium in its canning of Fat Tire.

“… It’s a great, diverse brewing community.”


(Source: Alicia Wallace, Daily Camera)