Glass Arrow was born from Bebout's passion for coffee, kindled by his time at Roostercat Coffeehouse and named for his other skill, making neon signs. The two crafts will come together at the Brandin' Iron.
Bebout's journey to coffee roasting was not a straightforward one: After a "real estate-adjacent" career, he was offered a job as a manager by a friend who had purchased Roostercat. Bebout's answer was initially no, but he eventually joined Roostercat as a partial owner. "It was a community I knew; I had been a regular there since the Gypsy House closed," Bebout recalls. "I switched to Roostercat, and I learned to roast. I fell in love with roasting, owning a shop and fostering the community that goes into owning the shop."
Although he initially started roasting just for Roostercat, he rented roster time at MORU Coffee and soon added a white label for Mutiny Information Cafe and several other community-oriented cafes. He had enough business to consider purchasing his own roaster when a new opportunity came along.
The Branding Iron Motel was purchased in 2017 by Alison Shunneson, with the intention of turning the motel into an affordable apartment complex. Shunneson, a former lawyer who founded Runt & Bro Colfax LLC, to undertake renovation projects, decided to create micro-units as small as 350 square feet to stay true to the motel's original layout, and named the project the Brandin' Iron Apartments to maintain the property's identity. Shunneson hired Bebout, a self-proclaimed "neon dad," to restore the original sign.
So in addition to restoring the motel's sign, he 's been working on the buildout of the Glass Arrow coffee shop, which will include its own roaster. With a little financial help from his family — "just enough to start some shit," according to Bebout — the construction is slowly coming along. Much like the apartment units, the shop itself is relatively small.
"I'm going to start out walk-up only because I can’t afford the building permits to have people dine in," says Bebout, which works perfectly for COVID times.
"The things that built the communities that I’m a part of have been art and activism...centered around coffee shops," Bebout notes. "In central Denver, it’s becoming more and more difficult to be an artist, an activist and working-class. It’s hard to be on the fringes in Denver.
"Moving out to East Colfax is a double-edged sword: Coffee shops come in and gentrification starts," he continues. "I'm trying to be a part of their community, not push my own idea of what East Colfax should be. I’m not trying to change or price out that neighborhood. I want to keep things affordable."
With that in mind, he says lattes will be $3 at most, with regular drip coffee no more than $2.50. Bebout had originally planned for a mid-November opening, but is now aiming for an early 2021 date to light up the neon and get the coffee roasting at the new Glass Arrow at the renovated Brandin' Iron.