A Wobbly welcome
When it came to naming newly opened The Wobbly Olive (3317 Cinema Point, wobblyolive.com), co-owner Sean Fitzgerald says he looked toward English gastropubs for ideas. (He eventually drew from the Wobbly Monk and Tilted Olive.)
In the former Nawlins location, the whimsicality continues, with shot specialties (often lit on fire) inspired by each week's big movie openings and menu items like Trash Can Chili — "the best of what's left" paired with ginger-jalapeño cornbread. Eclectic, if not unusual, items tend toward the trending and gourmet side: a hand-held Caesar salad, poutine, ceviche, chicken and waffles, a rattlesnake-rabbit cassoulet and fresh seafood specials, plus gluten-free and vegetarian options.
The who's who: Fitzgerald also co-owns a real estate, oil and gas holding company with business partner David Lewis. Lewis' wife Kristen handles accounting; Fitzgerald's wife Inez proffers bartending experience; her mom, a former Ruby Tuesday manager, consults for the front house; and Philly transplant David Cook, a Johnson & Wales grad, answered the Craigslist call for a chef, "taking our ideas and making them better," says Fitzgerald.
The crew spent three months renovating the spot, gifting an "industrial but organic" decor that's meant to make for a place that's somewhat upscale but approachable, diverse and more affordable than other fine dining spots locally. Though food sourcing comes from big-name vendors, freezers house only ice cream, and everything's made fresh on-site.
On tap: Pikes Peak Pub
Manitou Springs' Dulcimer Shop closed with 2013's end, after 43 years. But by mid-July, tentatively, the location at 740 Manitou Ave., should be revived as Pikes Peak Pub (pikespeakpub.com, coming soon).
According to local writer Stephanie Waters' Haunted Manitou Springs, the building long ago hosted another drink house called Johnny Nolan's Silver Dollar Saloon (no relation to SouthSide Johnny's Johnny Nolan of today), where "silver dollars were once lacquered into the floor, and the basement was at times used as a makeshift morgue." So don't panic if you hear the "resident banjo-playing spirit." Or do, and have another drink.
And that drink might be one of 20 beers on tap — 18 craft, plus Harp and Guinness (domestics only in bottles) — or a top-shelf spirit, says owner John Patrick, who retired from the Army and worked as a defense contractor for the last six years. He notes that the menu will initially consist only of to-order hot or cold sandwiches, perhaps using some area ingredients depending on cost. As much as it's aimed at being a spot to imbibe, it'll also be a music hub, with live local performers a few nights weekly, plus a regional or national act every few months.