Punch Bowl Social‘s newest location is about a month from its grand opening, and crews are hard at work both preserving and transforming the space that was once the Stapleton International Airport.
The new bar and restaurant will be the chain’s 10th and the second in its hometown of Denver. Like all other Punch Bowls, its design will pay homage to its location.
“It was really important to the neighborhood to bring it back to its originally state,” said Megan Freckelton, associate principal interior designer at OZ Architecture.
It was so important, in fact, that when it was announced that Punch Bowl would move into the space, current and former residents came forward to offer pieces of Stapleton history. One man had an old sign from the airport and a collection of luggage tags, among other things. The latter will be used to decorate bathrooms on the first floor.
New construction has added a lot of space, but Punch Bowl and the team at OZ have put a lot of work and care into preserving the building. The old air traffic control tower will get spruced up and much of the original brick, steel and concrete will remain — much of it now indoors.
The space that will be open to the public takes up two floors, and a third floor will be used for corporate offices. To answer the question on everyone’s mind: No, the control tower won’t be in use. At least not yet.
Punch Bowl and OZ had conversations about using the space, but it’s only 400 square feet, and it’s not ADA compliant.
“We couldn’t figure out a way to make it ADA compliant and make it make ADA-compliant money in 400 square feet,” said Robert Thomson, Punch Bowl Social’s founder and CEO. “[But] it’s not out of the picture for the future.”
But here’s what Punch Bowl Stapleton will have that sets it apart: outdoor space.
In 14,000 square feet, Punch Bowl will have bocce courts, ping pong tables, an “astro pool” (so, no, you can’t swim in it), in indoor/outdoor bar, stadium seating and a fire pit.
There will also be a second-floor patio, which they’re calling the Moon Patio and designing with a space travel theme.
And in keeping with the airport’s history, the entire bar and restaurant will have mid-century modern air travel theme — from tiny details like the particular shade of teal tile in the bathrooms to more overt tributes like tables featuring a graphic interpretation of the old runways.
“We really took that idea of the golden age of aviation and ran with it,” Freckelton said.
“It is a beacon of what it was,” said Frank Mataipule, senior associate at OZ. “It’s a fun throwback.”
Punch Bowl Stapleton will be the smallest of all Punch Bowl Socials in the country. Still, it’s pretty big. Bowling lanes will be spread out across two floors — two downstairs and four upstairs. The upstairs alleys are adjacent to the 360 bar that comes with every Punch Bowl location.
As usual, this Punch Bowl will also have an arcade room. Another one of its distinguishing features, though, will be the two private karaoke rooms.
The dining room at the entrance features an open kitchen, another Punch Bowl essential. Thompson said it’s an important feature that keeps his restaurants lively, along with hard surfaces that won’t absorb much sound and keep things a little noisy.
The grand opening is tentatively planned for the final week of October, and it’s just one of the many projects keeping Thomas and his team busy.
On Tuesday, they launched a virtual reality element in the Punch Bowl in Austin — a feature that will some day come to Denver, though there’s no timeline for that yet.
They’re also busy with the Sacramento Punch Bowl that’s supposed to open this year and six more locations planned for 2018 in Atlanta, Chicago, San Diego, Dallas, Brooklyn and Arlington, Virginia. They’re also planning to expand to Washington, D.C., and St. Louis in 2019.
It’s almost easy to forget this all started at 65 Broadway.