Introducing Colorado contemporary cuisine
When the iconic Ritz Grill closed in August 2017, it left locals curious and somewhat saddened. Veteran restauranteurs Luke Travins and Dave Lux, of Concept Restaurants, knew that in order to compete with the rapidly developing Downtown dining scene, it was time to reimagine the Ritz. They partnered with Bryan Bradigan and Chef Mario Vasquez to launch Colorado Craft Tejon Street Social, which opened January 22. Bradigan brings expertise from his time with Altitude Hospitality Group, parent company to The Till, The Pinery, and Garden of the Gods Market and Café. Vasquez, a Napa Valley native, holds an impressive culinary resume including the five star Montage Hotel and Resort in Laguna Beach, California.
Travins, Lux, Bradigan and Vasquez recognized that with the influx of dining options in the Downtown core over the last few years – like Roosters House of Ramen, IV by Brother Luck, and Oskar Blues – their concept would have to set them apart and also welcome back loyal patrons of the Ritz.
From the familiar Colorado state flag embedded in their signage and logo to interior craftsmanship and design to the thoughtful pairings of food and beverages, Colorado Craft shows great intention in capturing the local spirit.
Menu options showcase Chef Mario’s diverse culinary background from the Napa Valley area to France and Spain. He infuses international and local flavors to create one-of-a-kind dishes such as The Colorado Trout (the official state fish) paired with smoked tomato butter, bacon lardons, classic green beans and confit potatoes. The dish is one example of how he pays homage to his French training and connects it to Colorado. “There isn’t a set cuisine for Colorado. I hope that my background and experience can influence bringing that about,” Vasquez said.
Responsible food sourcing is of the utmost importance at Colorado Craft, and what most modern-day diners demand. Almost the entire menu is sourced regionally, including meat from Sangres Best Meat located in Westcliffe, CO and Corner Post Meats, just up the road in Black Forest. Although fresh seafood is hard to come by in our land-locked state, Wild Woman Fish Company, founded by Colorado Springs native Lacie Richardson, provides the freshest “sea to table” product on the market. The company touts itself as “the most sustainable fishery in Alaska,” using only a hook and line method and immediately freezing their catches at sea to ensure that what ends up on your plate in Colorado is fresh and delicious.
Locally sourced beer and cocktails also demonstrate Colorado loyalty. The “Palmer,” named after our city’s founder, features whiskey and DECC, a citrus clove whiskey liquor from Downtown distiller 291. The “Craft Fashioned” is made with Axe and Oak rye whiskey, and local craft beers on tap include Red Leg, Cerberus, Oskar Blues, and Bristol.
An intimate speakeasy-like bar is in the works and will occupy the basement of the new restaurant offering more upscale cocktails and food pairings.
Public response to the new restaurant has been positive, one Facebook fan exclaimed, “everyone should go here, literally all the time!” Others remark on the “classy, sophisticated atmosphere” and “impeccable service” and assert that the Colorado Craft “really captured the spirit of Colorado.”
While fans of the Ritz might have been apprehensive at first, there is definitely a sense of familiarity in the new place. If the walls could talk, I think they would say, “We remember you. Welcome back.” And in a sense, they do. A new mural on the wall expresses the vision, “Share. Conversation. Laughs. Colorado. Memories.” We are looking forward to new memories at Colorado Craft Tejon Street Social, welcome to the neighborhood.
Colorado Craft Tejon Street Social
15 S. Tejon, Downtown Colorado Springs, 80903