When Wynkoop Brewing starting slinging chicken out of its stately Mercantile Room event space last July, it was as a temporary pandemic pivot that would allow the state's oldest brewpub to offer takeout comfort food for people who were no longer allowed to eat inside — and as a way for the Wynkoop to keep its staff employed.
But Colorado is crazy for chicken right now — fried, Nashville-style and rotisserie concepts seem to be popping up on every street and out of every food truck — and The Coop Chicken + Beer found a lot of fans.
As a result, the Breckenridge-Wynkoop Group, which owns the Wynkoop, the Cherry Cricket and the Ale House, has decided to make the Coop a permanent, stand-alone restaurant with its own entrance and menu. To make that happen, the Coop closed on Tuesday and will undergo extensive remodeling before opening back up in late summer with a new look but with the same menu of fried and rotisserie chicken and craft beer.
In the meantime, customers will still be able to order food (for dine-in, takeout or delivery) from the Coop at the Wynkoop, which will be offering both menus until the reopening.
"When we got completely closed [due to the pandemic], we realized that burgers and French fries don't travel that well," says Amanda Young, director of operations for Breckenridge-Wynkoop, regarding the more standard Wynkoop fare. "But chicken travels well, and it also gives people comfort."
So the company dialed in a few recipes, including chicken sandwiches, chicken pizza and chicken salads. "We weren't thinking this would stay after the pandemic, but it really did well, and we got a lot of positive feedback," Young says. “Opening the Coop has been a silver lining through the pandemic."
With its arched windows, high ceilings and hardwood floors, the Mercantile Room has a nineteenth-century feel that matches the building's history. An antique bar back adds another period-appropriate touch, though the room has borne witness to many more modern events over the past 35 years, from weddings and banquets to political campaign kickoffs and fundraisers to beer-drinking contests and staff meetings.
The remodel will likely change that feel — and Young won't promise that the bar back will stay. "We want to make sure it is comfortable and feels warm," she says. "'A hip grandma's house' is what we've been calling it."
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