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Turner upon Briargate

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Listening to the 80th richest American recount his career trajectory is to witness a capitalist with Attention Deficit Disorder.

"I started in the billboard business, then I got the radio business and then I got in the television business and then I got in the sports business by buying the Hawks and the Braves and by doing the Goodwill Games and then I got into the news business and started CNN and I got into the movie business because we started making movies and the television programming business and the documentary business, so I've been in a lot of businesses."

Only Ted Turner could say that.

While Forbes magazine puts Turner's worth at $2. 2 billion, Turner claims he can't afford to retire. The ill-fated Time Warner-AOL deal, he claims, has left him unemployed.

So what's a 65-year-old media mogul to do? Open a chain restaurant, of course.

Ted's Montana Grill is one of half a dozen or so small restaurant chains to decamp upon the tony "Shops at Briargate" in northeastern Colorado Springs. It features comfort food with a Western flavor as evidenced by the omnipresence of bison meat on its menu as well as a formerly live bison mounted above the bar. The Briargate restaurant is the chain's 12th and the third in Colorado.

Turner and his partner, restaurateur George McKerrow, say the state is an ideal place for market saturation due to Coloradans' familiarity with bison meat. Their business plan aims to double their size each year with a goal of 500 restaurants within a decade.

"We only have one television set; we're not trying to be a sports bar," Turner says. "People really need media and they need food. And they really need food more than they need media."

While Turner has kicked up controversy in the past by referring to some of his Catholic CNN employees as "Jesus Freaks," he was unaware that his new eatery sits within a javelin's toss of Focus on the Family headquarters. In fact, Turner was unaware that Colorado Springs was a hub for evangelical Christians.

"Is it?" Turner asked incredulously. "Well, they gotta eat."

-- John Dicker

photo by Drew Wyeth

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