Sunday, October 23, 2011

Colorado Springs' Depot Restaurant Closing Monday

2 photos:
The restaurant that preserved the D&RG depot in Colorado Springs, Colorado from the wrecking ball in the 1970s is closing tomorrow. The building that was built originally to suit arrival of small, narrow-gauge trains of travelers, transplants and tourists will have a new purpose as an events center, not unlike--at least on paper--Pueblo's Union Depot.

The depot at 10 S. Sierra Madre St in Colorado Springs was the first major station for General William J. Palmer's "baby railroad." Rather than connect with Manitou and Colorado City, Palmer developed an entirely new city, Colorado Springs, with the railroad set to serve a real estate venture also funded by Palmer and his investors. The depot was built to impress both the tourist intent on visiting nearby Pikes Peak and the settlers coming to populate "little London," as the town was coming to be known as, mostly because of the high number of English emigrants. They came after enticements by Dr. William Bell, Palmer's associate, who took out advertisements in local British and Irish papers.1 The depot beneath the Pikes Peak region's namesake was designed to reflect an English design in favor at the time, built in a late Victorian/Queen Anne style.2

Until last year, the restaurant was owned by Ed and Joanne Colt. Perhaps the reason for the demise of the 38 year-old business is best found in the community's comments on the article. Jeffrey Davis said, in part,
Every time I was there, the food was OK at best and got worse under current owners. It was kind of like Colorado Springs' own Casa Bonita. You took people there from out of town because it was famous, not because it was a spectacular place. ...
Said Shanda Thomas Johnson,
Up until about 10 years ago, we ate at Geuseppe's often. I am 44 and my parents would take us there when we were very little. Unfortunately, since ownership [has changed], the place just hasn't been the same. The prices [were] outrageous. Food has gone downhill. I am glad they we are doing whatever we can to preserve the building. The restaurant wasn't preserved. No big loss there. [Emphasis added]
Will an event center really work? Possibly, although I'm no business expert. Making it a place for weddings, business parties and civic receptions could work if the prices are reasonable, the catering exceptional and the service above average. On the other hand, are the current owners likely to provide this? That's doubtful. If I'm proven right, we could be looking at a shuttered facility hoping desperately for a revival.

1 - Bristol Elementary District 11 school history project 1880s - Little London Bobbies
2 - Colorado Springs walking tour architectural style

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