Boulder’s New Rayback Collective Is Much More Than a Food-Truck Park

Exterior of Rayback Collective.EXPAND
Exterior of Rayback Collective.
Courtesy of the Rayback Collective

Situated on a roughly 15,000-square-foot plot of land at 2775 Valmont Road, the Rayback Collective isn’t a new idea, but it’s something that was sorely needed in Boulder. A successfully funded Kickstarter campaign raised more than $40,000 for the project, making it a venue truly built for the people, by the people. The new space will boast a food-truck park, a beer garden, live music and patio games, and is designed to bring the community together to celebrate the outdoors. I talked to Hank Grant, co-founder and president of the project, to find out a little more about north Boulder's newest draw. 

Lauren Monitz: The opening is July 15, correct?

Hank Grant: We have our final fire inspection on Thursday morning. If we pass, they’ll grant us a temporary certificate of occupancy in which case Friday would be the opening. Landscaping, which was part of our building permit, was holding us up because in Boulder, you’re not legally allowed to plant in this climate with this hot of weather — nor would you want to. Either way, we’ll be open to the public sometime in the next week.

A friends-and-family soft launch at Rayback.
A friends-and-family soft launch at Rayback.
Courtesy of The Cyclists' Menu

Where did this idea come from? Was it inspired by Avanti, TheBigWonderful or anything like that?

The idea came about in May of 2014 over a glass of wine in San Francisco. We saw what other cities were doing and thought we needed something here. These concepts are all over the place, and they each adopt their own personality based on the city and what their limitations are.

Our original concept was going to be on the east end of Pearl with more of an outdoor space. When we found this site (on Valmont), it really shaped what it is now. It’s right on the bike path, and you can see busy 28th street from the parking lot.

Boulder's new food-truck park already drawing crowds.EXPAND
Boulder's new food-truck park already drawing crowds.
Courtesy of the Rayback Collective

How do the founders (Corbin Grant, Matt Patrick and Justin Riley) know each other?

Corbin is my wife. I met Matt in church; he’s a pastor’s kid. Justin and I are both from Atlanta and had mutual friends. We met on an adventure trip in Moab. We were working on an app together, and this idea just came along and took precedence. He was living in Kansas City and Dallas at the time, so he was familiar with the concept and saw how well they worked out there.

What’s in a name?

The project started as Boulder Food Park until about a month ago, when we decided the name was too limiting. Food trucks are just a component of what we do. We are a bar, an event space and a community hub. The new name is a nod to Rayback Plumbing & Supply, the building’s former long-term tenant. 

A typical night out at the Rayback Collective.EXPAND
A typical night out at the Rayback Collective.
Courtesy of the Rayback Collective

Opening a new venue in Boulder is no easy task. Walk me through some of the hurdles you’ve overcome.

First, you have to go through the pre-application phase to review what’s allowed on the property with the zoning laws, utilities and such. That triggers a bunch of other things that says you either can or can’t do what you want. We ended up breaking our lease on the East Pearl location and going back to the drawing board because we were running into so many walls. 

For months, we were an idea without a home. Things in Boulder are expensive, and it’s hard to find a space big enough for what we needed that was undeveloped and we could make our own.

The Valmont location was perfect, but when we went through the process again, we found out you can’t have food trucks within fifty feet of a restaurant. Even with our neighbors' approval, the city council had to change a whole law. We had to get on the docket and get the city attorney to draw an amendment for us. In six weeks, we personally met with almost every city council member and got them to care about our cause. It was a Hail Mary, but it paid off.

Then we had to go through a use review to change the zoning of the property. After that, you get permits, coordinate the mechanical, plumbing and everything else before you can even begin to execute on construction.

A cool new venue for north Boulder.EXPAND
A cool new venue for north Boulder.
Courtesy of the Rayback Collective

Tell me about some of the upcoming events.

Spyder Fridays will be a monthly gathering dedicated to the things we all love, from art to music to ski movies to serious ski conditioning. We’re also working on something with Vail Resorts to do giveaways and sell passes. On Thursdays, we’re in talks to host cruisers and do group rides in the morning. We want to be involved with anything and everything that screams Boulder: film premieres, concerts, you name it.

Anything else you want people to know?

We see this as a way to bring people to the area. We don’t want to compete with restaurants, event spaces or anything else. We’re hoping to develop the neighborhood so everyone can benefit. We care about our neighbors and want to make an impact. It’s about time Boulder had something where people can have their dogs, their kids and just be outside and enjoy their time.

The Rayback Collective will be open seven days a week, with four rotating food trucks for lunch and dinner.  The bar sports thirty tap handles pouring beer, cider and wine. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.


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