Westside wine bar operators bring the dream home

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Ami and Rod Quass saw potential in an old Victorian, and the result is everything they hoped.

2 South Wine Bar

Owners: Rod and Ami Quass

Address: 2 S. 25th Street

Hours: 11 a.m. – midnight,

Thursday-Saturday and 3 to 10 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday

When Ami Quass walked into the old Victorian house at 2 S. 25th St. in Old Colorado City, she could see past the crusty old carpet, peeling laminate and dingy façade — to her dream.

Ami and Rod Quass had been dreaming for the better part of 12 years about owning and operating a wine bar. But it had to be the perfect location — a little off the beaten path, but in a community, an old home, firehouse or church, but with plenty of room for outside seating and mountain views.

“We really liked merlot,” Rod said.

That was how it all started.

Their mutual love for merlot eventually led them to try other wines. Their tastes broadened and they developed a true love for vino. They tried new ones and tasted what they could. Then they started pairing wines with different foods and seeing how they could bring out the flavors.

That experience was something they wanted to share. And that’s how their wine bar dream was born.

They looked at buildings downtown about a six years ago, Ami said.

But the right place just wasn’t there.

They did other things while they dreamed. The pair ran Peak 3 Outfitters, a teambuilding camp for church groups, businesses and school children.

Then they started refurbishing old homes, and Ami became a real estate agent.

She works all over the city, but her heart is in downtown and the Old North End.

“I always had a love for older buildings and homes,” Ami said.

Together, Ami and Rod refurbished about nine older homes, Rod said. Most of them were in the Old North End or near downtown Colorado Springs. They developed a knack for it and a reputation.

The couple who own the old house at 25th Street and Pikes Peak Avenue contacted Ami and asked her to consult on what the building could be and how its vacant interior could be revitalized.

She never considered moving the wine bar dream to Old Colorado City and she was relatively unfamiliar with the area in comparison to downtown. But when she saw the house, she knew it was perfect.

“I told them they had a lot of options,” Ami said. “I said it could maybe be a good office/condo building, but I asked if they would be willing to sit down and listen to our dream.”

The building owners liked the wine bar idea, and the Quasses got started right away on renovations. The house retains its Old World feel and the original wood floors in most places. The bars feature the cut-off bottoms of wine bottles under glass with a hammered copper trim. It mingles edgy modernity with authentic charm in much the same way the entire establishment does.

The walls are painted light colors to make the dark wood stain stand out. Large canvas prints of the house’s old doors during renovations decorate walls alongside super-modern and completely old-school light fixtures. Some of the doors were refinished and re-hung.

The wine storage is updated with coolers and an advanced system for removing air from the bottles so they will keep longer. 2 South is also one of the first wine bars in the state to serve wine from kegs. Vineyards have started packing some of their best wines in 26-bottle kegs perfectly engineered to make sure the wine is maintained in the best condition until it’s served, Rod said.

There’s also a new state-of-the-art commercial kitchen in the house.

“We’re more than just a wine bar,” Ami said. “We’re a food and wine bar.”

The cuisine is comfort food with a twist, she said — macaroni and cheese, gourmet grilled cheese with tomato bisque and French fried chicken using Rice Crispies treats for a gluten-free batter.

“We wanted the menu to be accessible,” Rod said. “The most expensive thing on there is $15.”

The same is true for the wine, he said. The variety is wide and stretches across different price points. When their wine list is complete, he said they expect to have 66 different wines, many of which they will change and rotate regularly.

Rod says 2 South will host wine-tasting events and wine-pairing meals to give people a feel for different wines without having to make a big commitment to any of them.

“Wine can be intimidating,” Rod said.

They want to take the intimidation factor out of wine and make 2 South a community gathering spot where people can come often and stay late, Rod said.

“I like that it’s a home,” Ami said. “I want people to feel like they’re coming home when they come here.”