Jason Rogers, the man behind the food at Oskar Blues, talks tacos and Cyclhops
Longmont's Cyclhops Bike CANtina is the latest emerald-capped tooth in Oskar Blues' crooked grin. Armed with tacos and bikes, the restaurant, which is having a grand opening bash today, may be the quirky company's oddest creation yet. But Jason Rogers, a Cyclhops chef partner, says it makes perfect sense.
"This was like a mash-up of things we all loved. Tequila, beer, bikes, Mexican food," says Rogers, who writes the menus for all the Oskar Blues eateries and oversees their operations. "I love the idea of tacos, because you can get three different flavors, as opposed to having one giant Chipotle burrito."
And in true OB style, Rogers is offering a number of tasty and unusual flavors, like lobster tacos and tortas, Mexican-style beef cheeks with honey habañero carrots, and, under the "Los Gringos" section, a pastrami quesadilla. And to accommodate the Lycra-clad hordes that pass through this part of Longmont ("This side of town, there's probably more cyclists from here to [Highway] 36 on any given weekend than anywhere," Rogers says), Cyclhops will soon offer gluten-free corn tortillas and paleo-friendly jicama tortillas.
Following the style of the "craft casual" burger joint CHUBurger, Cyclhops is also using beef and pork from their Hops & Heifers farm down the road, and will start growing produce right on the premises.
But as Rogers explains, the original concept was quite a bit different. Oskar Blues started renting the former Jack's space on Airport Road a year ago, and the kitchen was to be put to work making OB's assortment of beer-augmented hot sauces. The rest of the space was to be devoted to a bike shop for manufacturing OB's line of REEB bikes, a bar, and a little hut for tacos.
"Nobody wants welding where you're eating," Rogers remembers thinking. "But a big bar on this side of town would be fun, because there's nothing to do here."
Between Oskar Blues' flagship restaurant, Home Made Liquids and Solids, CHUBurger, and now Cyclhops, Oskar Blues is presiding over the most exciting culinary developments in Longmont. "Downtown Longmont is changing a lot, the new mall is going to change things to a certain degree, there's a lot of healthy growth here," Rogers says.
September's devastating flood disrupted the Cyclhops' construction, and the company as a whole, when it cut Oskar Blues' home of Lyons off from Longmont. "It set us back weeks, just because everybody was affected," Rogers said. "It was sucking our physical and mental resources that we were up there and not as focused on completing this."
But the brewery with the can-do attitude is pressing on into 2014, dipping a toe into Denver with a planned CHUBurger at Coors Field, the stronghold of corporate cerveza.. And according to Rogers, the outpost will indeed be serving Dale's Pale Ale and Old Chub on tap, with other CHUBurger standards. "We're just going to do the hand shakes, fries and the CHUBurger, and see how that rolls for a while," he says. "You never know, the buffalo burger might make an appearance."
But with an ever-expanding network of eating and drinking, you can't fault Rogers for wanting to take it slow with this one. "I've seen it where you can turn off so many people. 'I couldn't even get in, the food sucked, the service was terrible,'" he says. "Once the garage doors get open and it starts churning, I think we'll have more than we ever asked for."