COLORADO SPRINGS — An old building in downtown Colorado Springs is finding new life during the COVID-19 pandemic, while keeping visitors coming to the area. It used to be known as Giuseppi's, an Italian restaurant that closed nine years ago, but now the doors have reopened as The Old Depot.
The building was built in 1887 and the Ochs family, from Colorado Springs, bought it in 1971. The Oaks family says they recognized the building's history, and it's something they want to bring back to life for the community.
"We really wanted to illuminate the history of the building and bring it up to speed as far as modernizing it," said Charles Ochs, a co-owner.
Nearly 50 years after the Ochs family bought the Colorado Springs landmark, they reopened it as a venue with three restaurants: a burger bar, a farm-to-table restaurant, and a sandwich depot.
Many of the building's characteristics remain the same, and there are features like the windows or ticketing booth that are still there. While you're enjoying a burger or a milkshake, you can also watch trains go by through the large windows at the restaurant.
The Ochs family says for years the Train Depot was a hub and a city gate to the area. Many people who were traveling by train to and from Colorado Springs likely stepped foot in the building.
"Unique people have come through here, like presidents including Teddy Roosevelt, and movie stars," said Charles.
The Ochs family says The Old Depot has been a part of their family for decades, and they didn't want to part ways with it when they came together and had a conversation about its future.
"We as a family rode the last passenger train out of Colorado Springs to Pueblo which was awesome," said Amy, another co-owner. "I think we all have a lot of memories growing up here."
"We wanted this cornerstone building that was enjoyed by kids when we were kids, or by adults our age, or by people that are older. It is unique, and it is wonderful," said Charles.
2020 presented its own set of challenges in renovating and re-purposing a building that sat vacant for nearly nine years, but despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ochs family says renovations were full steam ahead.
"When we committed to renovating the building we knew it was going to be a large project. It's an older building so when you start tearing down walls and changing things, you come up with challenges," said Charles. "The pandemic came in the middle of our construction project and we said, 'We have to complete it.' It's about the building and the long term use."
The family tells News5 they're grateful to connect the community to Colorado Springs history once again.
"We had a vision for this building. We love this building, we love our community, and we wanted to give the history back to Colorado Springs," said Amy.
"I really like that this whole area is reusing old buildings and that we're still in the train station vibes," said Rachel Philhower, a customer at The Old Depot.
Brakeman's Burgers and Track Ten are already open, while the Sandwich Depot is expected to open in the upcoming weeks.
The building has 14-thousand square feet of space inside, so there is plenty of room to social distance if you grab a bite to eat. Tables have been placed at least six feet apart, and staff are taking extra precautions as far as cleaning. To-go orders are also available.