They’re back baby! Lonesome Buck in downtown Greeley is set to reopen on Thursday
The wait – and the question – of whether Lonesome Buck Brewing Co. in downtown Greeley was going to set his smoker on fire again, it’s over.
Brewery CEO and co-owner Jake Fitzsimmons confirmed with the Greeley Tribune that the beloved brewery, known for its tasty smoked meats, poutines and special downstairs dinners, will indeed reopen from 11am Thursday.
The reopening date is the perfect time, giving the community another place to celebrate the Memorial Day long weekend with their favorite Lonesome Buck food and beers.
“We will be full of wild boar. We’ll have everything we’ve done before as well as an expanded menu, ”said Fitzsimmons. “There is more on the menu than before, and we will be restarting the dinner events as well.”
Over the past two weeks, Fitzsimmons and his parents, Jack and Cindy Fitzsimmons, have put a lot of work and grease into getting ready to reopen the brewery.
When the pandemic hit the United States, several lines of face-to-face customer service businesses like restaurants, bars, breweries and distilleries were ordered to temporarily shut down until the Centers for Disease Control can better understand the specifics of COVID- 19 virus safety guidelines and designs
“We closed everything because there was so much uncertainty. We have two other restaurants and we have closed all three, ”Fitzsimmons explained. “No one knew anything; all we knew was that it was scary and potentially our staff and customers were in danger. “
As the questions surrounding the virus began to outnumber the answers, Fitzsimmons and Helton laid off all their staff, including themselves, and urged them to immediately apply for unemployment benefits.
Understanding the pressure these closures would have on businesses, many cities in the United States, including Greeley and Windsor, have turned to other ways of doing business, such as allowing takeout or takeout alcohol and the free consumption in certain areas of cities. .
Despite these alternative options and several of Lonesome Buck’s neighbors taking advantage of the new guidelines, Fitzsimmons and Helton have chosen to remain closed and weather the COVID-19 wave.
“We chose not to do this at this location because there are too many meals. We don’t have drive-thru, we don’t have a lot of foot traffic – especially during COVID, ”Fitzsimmons said. “So people were coming to Lonesome Buck as a destination, it was an experience. You can breast smoke at home if you want to, but that’s part of it all. We haven’t been able to do what we do best, and that was the hospitality.
Instead of taking advantage of the new regulations in force, Fitzsimons and Helton decided to convert their Stuft Hamburger Bar in Windsor at a second Lonesome Buck location.
“It’s already dark, all the employees are laid off, so there is nothing there. We turned him into Lonesome Buck, ”Fitzsimmons said. “The idea was to make Windsor another option compared to what we do here. Beer is still made in Greeley, but now we have a second location to help us sell this product and leverage the brand. “
Armed with a Home Depot credit card, Fitzsimmons, with the help of his father, Jack, revamped the building to coincide with the vibe of the Lonesome Buck brand.
“There’s no brewery there, but it still came out really great,” said Fitzsimmons. “The long term goal has always been the Lonesome Buck brand. A pandemic was never expected, but we were trying to do something positive that we had to be shut down. “
With the Greeley site shutting down with no reopening date set and “really no money to buy anything,” the Fitzsimmons father and son duo raided the Greeley site of almost everything, including glasses, cutlery, computers, TV screens, Lonesome Buck Goods and everything they needed to get the Windsor site up and running.
As the number of COVID-19 cases began to decline late last summer and the CDC and community health departments relaxed their guidelines, Fitzsimmons and Helton were able to reopen their Stuft Burger Bar, 210 S College Ave., Fort Collins and the new Windsor location.
However, as the holidays approached in December, another shutdown occurred.
“Once they resumed dinner, the decision was made to lean more in, with our eyes on spring and summer,” Fitzsimmons said. “And let’s face it, that’s when downtown Greeley gets the busiest anyway. No restaurant starts in January. “
Windsor Lonesome Buck’s location provided the opportunity to test new menu items and specials, allowing Fitzsimmons and Helton to reopen in Greeley with some offers that customers had not seen before.
“All these big plans we had for Greeley, some of them started in Windsor because that was the place that worked,” Fitzsimmons explained.
“It’s been a year,” he laughs.
And like many other restaurants, breweries, and bars, Fitzsimmons and Helton definitely felt the financial pinch.
“We went back to managing restaurants, which we haven’t had to do for a decade. But you do what you have to do. We have suffered a huge financial blow as a company and for Tif and me personally. But we have a lot of friends who haven’t, ”commented Fitzsimmons. “Then there was some PPP money, so now we had a buffer, but there was still so much uncertainty. We weren’t thinking, ‘How much money can I make during a pandemic? It was, ‘OK, how do we make sure we get to the other side?’ “
It was this philosophy that led Fitzsimmons and Helton through this unprecedented pandemic and the reopening of their downtown facility.
“Looking back, you could probably tell I was being overly cautious, but you didn’t know that at the time. All I know is when reality returns and real life returns, I still want to be there, ”Fitzsimmons said. “There are still people who are worried and will not come yet, but they will. But there are enough now where we can do it and operate for a profit, do it the right way, and hire the right people.