Opening next month under new ownership, the building that was previously home to the Columbine Bar in Mancos will soon be the site of a family-friendly restaurant offering sandwiches, burgers and steaks.
The new eatery, called the Columbine Bar & Grill, will also offer Colorado craft beers, ciders, wines and spirits.
“It’s going to be a restaurant that happens to have a bar in it,” co-owner Brent McWhirter told The Journal. “Think of Applebee’s, but with actually really good food.”
McWhirter and his wife, Rachel, became owners of the former Columbine Bar in January.
The Columbine Bar had been one of the longest continually operating bars in the state. Some say it opened in 1903, though it was undoubtedly open by at least 1910.
It also had a reputation for being the site of raucous barroom antics.
“It was known as a pretty rough bar in its heyday,” Brent McWhirter said.
Fights were not uncommon over the years, and there are stories of patrons riding a horse into the bar.
The owners of the building approached the McWhirters last year about starting a restaurant and helping in the remodeling decision-making process.
The restaurant was officially purchased in January, but the process of remodeling and upgrading the building began earlier. New plumbing and electric have been slowly installed, along with a new roof.
In addition to standard bar fare, the restaurant’s menu will include items such as burgers, steaks and pastas. The McWhirters also operate the Moose & More ice cream shop in Cortez. All of the restaurant’s dessert items will be prepared by Moose & More and taken to Mancos.
Wines and spirits from throughout Colorado will be available. The restaurant also plans to offer items from local cideries, as well as breweries from Cortez and Durango.
The building’s owners also own the Mancos Common Press. McWhirter told The Journal that the new restaurant might collaborate with the Mancos Common Press to host talks and other events.
McWhirter said it was a bit tougher to find contractors and materials during the pandemic.
“It’s been slow going,” McWhirter said. “Very slow going. We didn’t want to open up right in the midst of the pandemic. We’re kind of blessed to open on the downslope of this where people are getting vaccinated now, so that we can offer in-person dining right from the beginning.”
The goal is to be open at 100% capacity by summertime.
“It’s been good to fill a niche over here that’s sorely needed,” McWhirter said. “People really want to go out again. They’re really tired of cooking at home.”
The Columbine Bar & Grill plans to launch in April. It will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.