Micro brew taking shape on the city’s north side

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Colorado Springs’ north side residents are getting a new micro brewery restaurant, and a small group of former Air Force Academy cadets is bringing it to them.

Colorado Mountain Brewery, a 6,500 square foot micro brewery and restaurant is scheduled to open near Interstate 25 and Interquest Parkway by the end of June.

Scott Koons, a 1993 Air Force Academy graduate, is the managing general partner of a group that began fundraising for the project as early as summer 2008. Even as our local economy fell into one of the worst recessions in decades, Koons remembers the group never wavered in its decision to move ahead with its plan.

“The plan was really set during the worst part of the doom-and-gloom economy,” Koons said. “Our philosophy and our decision never changed. In fact, we thought starting in a down economy might have been an advantage. We felt like we were in a good position. We didn’t have to worry about a construction companies telling us that they had to do 10 other jobs at the same time.”

Scott Koons and a group of fellow Air Force Academy graduates will open a micro brewery and restaurant near the Hollywood Theater complex off Interquest Parkway this summer.

Scott Koons and a group of fellow Air Force Academy graduates will open a micro brewery and restaurant near the Hollywood Theater complex off Interquest Parkway this summer.

The plan was also characterized by its bank financing, or lack thereof.

Koons is an experienced entrepreneur. Following his departure from the Air Force during 1998 he owned and operated an internet video streaming business. Upon entering this particular limited partnership he knew his new investment group did not want to get involved with bank loans.

“I think, traditionally, restaurant owners have gone out and leveraged everything,” he said. “And many times those same owners also sacrifice on location. We went for private financing, so we’re not relying banks. That’s gotten a lot of folks into trouble. We didn’t want to be over leveraged and under capitalized. We knew we had to raise private capital to get off the ground, and that enhanced our chances for success by not having a debt load to pay.”

Koons began looking around Colorado Springs for real estate development opportunities during 2008 when the idea for the micro-brewery/restaurant emerged. The group then initiated a market study in hopes of finding a premier location. Ultimately, after looking at Manitou Springs, the Powers corridor and other high-profile shopping areas the group kept coming back to the north end and Interquest Parkway near the Hollywood Theater complex.

“Our research indicated that a restaurant needs high visibility, easy access and ample parking, and we feel like we got all three with the location we’re at now,” Koons said. “Plus, microbrew wise, there’s not a ton of competition. I don’t think Phantom Canyon is losing business to Rock Bottom. We’re just expanding micro brew to make it more accessible to the folks on the north side.

In a strange twist of coincidence, when the ownership partners look east from Colorado Mountain Brewery, they’ll get an unobstructed view of the football stadium at the Air Force Academy. And in a further connection to his roots, Koons hired his former Air Force Academy squadron mate John Bauer as general manager.

University Village Colorado welcomes third anchor

Lowe’s will open its fourth Colorado Springs-area store, a 117,000 square foot retail store, today at University Village Colorado. Following Costco in November and Kohl’s last week, Lowe’s is the last of UVC’s anchor tenants to open. The store will employ 175 workers.

Based in Morresville, N.C., Lowe’s was founded in 1946, and with more than 1,700 stores, is the second largest home improvement retailer in the world.

Scott Prater can be reached at scott.prater@csbj.com or 719-329-5208.