COLORADO SPRINGS – A tasty new addition to the Colorado Springs restaurant scene is the latest example of the business boom underway in downtown. The Atomic Cowboy is a 3-in-1 concept restaurant and bar. The Denver Biscuit Company serves hungry customers for breakfast and lunch. Fat Sully’s pizzeria fires up their ovens for afternoon and evening customers.
The business model is the brainchild of entrepreneur Drew Shader. His South Tejon location is the fifth to open since Shader first purchased the original Atomic Cowboy on Colfax Avenue in Denver in the early 2000’s.
“We felt Colorado Springs, outside of Denver, was the next area to really take off, specifically down here on South Tejon,” Shader said. “We just felt like it was a great neighborhood for us, it had a great vibe, it really felt like our South Colfax location did 15 years ago, and South Broadway 10 years ago.”
The restaurants won’t officially open until Tuesday. His staff invited some 3,500 of their closest friends, relatives, and neighbors to come to the soft opening during the holiday weekend to work out any kinks. Since the food is free for this training period, all tips will be donated to charity.
“All of the tips go to Angels of Fallen Veterans,” Shader said. “It’s an amazing charity down here in the Springs that 100 percent of their money goes to the kids of vets who’ve passed away.”
Shader is working with a trio of other business owners to create a restaurant cluster in the remodeled former South Side Johnny’s nightclub. A street taco restaurant, ice cream shop and whiskey distillery are all planning to open next door to Atomic Cowboy in the coming weeks.
The South Tejon revitalization is a snapshot of a much larger business boom taking place across downtown Colorado Springs. Nor’wood is building a 187 unit apartment complex directly across Rio Grande Street from Atomic Cowboy.
“In our State of Downtown report earlier this year, we were at about $675 million in new public and private investment,” explained Susan Edmondson, President, and CEO of the Downtown Partnership.
“But now we’re able to say we’re at nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars of new business, new construction really great new improvements in our community.”
All of the new hotels, apartments, restaurants, and attractions being built are a boon for the 80903 zip code. However, Edmondson explained that when downtown thrives, so does the rest of the city.
“It’s so important to have a strong heart to your city in order for the city to thrive overall,” she said. “Downtown, we’re just really a little over one square mile, but downtown we return 11 times more sales tax revenue per acre than the city on average.”
In fact, things are growing faster than even shader expected when he first made plans to bring his businesses here three years ago.
“We knew the apartments were coming, but we did not know the stadium was coming, and we didn’t know that the other restaurants around here were coming,” he said.
“We knew that we were going to bring some other restaurants with us and bring this kind of restaurant cluster down here, but we didn’t know that South Tejon would become what it’s becoming so fast.”