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Hickenlooper and Coopersmith's

Mayor of Denver and gubernatorial candidate, John Hickenlooper, recently spoke at the Saving Places conference I attended a couple of weeks ago. Pretty much everyone is familiar with his story of being one of the founding fathers of Wynkoops Brewpub in Lower Downtown (LODO) Denver. I also knew that he was involved with some other Brewpubs.

What I didn’t know is how much of a preservationist Hickenlooper is, and that he also helped to start Coopersmith’s in Fort Collins. The story goes, that after Hickenlooper was laid off as a geologist in the mid 80’s, he did some traveling and visited the Falling Rock Ale House in Berkeley, CA and was impressed with the brewpub concept. Long story short, a couple of years later Wynkoop was born in LODO, at that time an almost forgotten area. In 1989, I worked a block from Wynkoops, and can attest to the area being down and out. At that time Denver still had the viaducts coming through LODO, effectively bypassing LODO for downtown Denver.

Shortly after Wynkoops was open and wildly successful, Hickenlooper hooked up with the owner of Old Chicago’s at the time to open up Coopersmith’s in historic downtown Fort Collins in 1989. At that time, Old Town Square was only a few years old and was still trying to find its groove. Hickenlooper went on, with various partners to open a number of brewpubs accross the country. Every one of these brewpubs was located in a historic building in downtown locations. This earned him a 1997 for Preservation Honor Award for “inner city development in historic buildings”  by The National Trust for Historic Preservation. At the time Coopersmith’s opened, it was only the restaurant side. Across the way, where the poolside is now, was the Fort Collins Comedy Works. How many of you remember that?

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7 comments to Hickenlooper and Coopersmith's

  • I didn’t realize Hickenlooper was involved in Coopersmiths.

    Coopersmiths used to be our favorite restaurant in town. The beer is always great, but these days the menu could use a refresh and we really miss the old pizza oven. The pizza just doesn’t seem as flavorful anymore.

    The location rocks, though. I love the old grocery mural on the side and all the brick showing. Nice.

  • sgltrak

    I remember the comedy club. Went there a few times in college.

    Love the patios and the mashed potatoes and spiced apples at Coopersmiths

  • I remember the comedy club, too, and remember being sad that it closed before I ever made it in. Coopersmith’s, on the other hand, has been a favorite restaurant of mine since I first went in, though that wasn’t until I was dating my husband, so some time in the early 90’s. Even then it seemed to me as though it had always been there. And they have THE BEST chocolate mousse! I won’t even eat it at other places, and if I really want to treat myself, that’s what I get. 😀

    I’ve only been to Wynkoops once, back in the summer of ’89 – I didn’t realize it was new, either, as it was hopping and seemed like a fixture already.

  • Terence

    I usually get the Mile High Burrito, or the Chicken Pot Pie. Of course, I really go for the beer. The Mountain Ave. Wheat in the summer can easily put me under the table.

    I only went to the Comedy Works once. All this opened about the time I graduated from CSU, and moved to the Mile High City for a few years. By the time I came back, the Comedy Club was long gone.

  • Ah! The chicken pot pie *is* pretty amazing. My daughter keeps begging us to take her back for more. I don’t eat meat and even I like the sauce and crusty part. Yum! Wish they’d make a veg. version.

  • Terence

    This comment just appeared on the Colorado portion of Lost Fort Collins.

    “Close but no cigar. Scott Smith was a manager for Concept Restaurants, a Boulder based company which owned (at the time) Old Chicago and the Prime Minister in Ft. Collins. Scott went to Wynkoops to learn about brewpubs and returned with a brewmaster (Brad Page) and advice from Hick. Scott got investor money from everywhere he could in order to make Coppersmith’s work and was very judicious in spending. He purchased most of his refrigeration equipment from the old Sirloin Stockade (Western Camera) building on South College for a hundred dollars if I remember correctly. Coopersmith’s Pub is a real American success story.”

    For what it is worth, I wrote this blog a week before I posted it, and I did email Hickenlooper to make sure I had the facts straight on his involvement, but never heard back. Oh well. Hick did say he come up to Ft. Collins to help with location selection, etc.

    Nevertheless Coopersmith’s is still great!

  • Mike B

    I also remember The comedy club, I spent my 21st birthday with friends and family watching a comedian/hypnotist there. I never laughed so hard and had a great sober birthday.

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