Food News

Owlbear Barbecue Targeted by Possible Saboteurs

Owlbear's smoker was sabotaged on Monday, January 29.
Owlbear's smoker was sabotaged on Monday, January 29. Courtesy Owlbear Barbecue
Karl Fallenius has been working on getting his Owlbear Barbecue open at 2826 Larimer Street since last summer; the main delays have been from receiving the proper permits from the city, since the overall project doesn't exactly follow the standard out-of-box restaurant model. For one thing, Fallenius has two hand-built smokers made from empty 500-gallon propane tanks in the parking lot in front of the building. Or at least he did until earlier in the week, when two masked criminals stole the doors of one of the smokers, making it unusable.

The incident occurred before dawn on Monday, January 29, but Fallenius didn't discover it until Wednesday morning,when he was visiting the property. Immediately suspecting foul play, he called the police and also checked with his friends at neighboring Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company, which has a security camera on the outside wall of the brewery. After reviewing the recording, Fallenius came to the conclusion that the vandalism may have been an act of intentional sabotage.

click to enlarge A white van was caught on surveillance video. - STILL FROM OUR MUTUAL FRIEND VIDEO.
A white van was caught on surveillance video.
Still from Our Mutual Friend video.
That Monday morning, two men in dark clothing, ski hats and masks pulled up in a white, unmarked van, possibly with the license plates covered. They parked next to Owlbear's smokers and began removing the doors with a cordless tool before pulling out an extension cord, plugging it into the wall just below Our Mutual Friend's camera, and finishing the job with an angle grinder. It's clear from the video that the perpetrators knew exactly what they were doing and were efficient in their actions.

"They didn't damage anything else on the smoker," says Fallenius. "They were pretty quick and clean about it."

click to enlarge A perpetrator plugs an extension cord into Our Mutual Friend's wall outlet. - STILL FROM OUR MUTUAL FRIEND VIDEO.
A perpetrator plugs an extension cord into Our Mutual Friend's wall outlet.
Still from Our Mutual Friend video.
The Owlbear pit master also points out that nothing else was taken (despite the presence of other scrap metal and equipment) and that the doors are only worth a few dollars on the scrap-metal market. And because the doors were made directly from the propane tanks, it would be very difficult to fit them onto another smoker.

That design also makes the doors difficult to replace. "I'm not even sure how I'm going to fix it," he adds. "The doors are part of the tank."

Despite the setback, Fallenius says the difficult permitting process is nearly behind him, and he hopes to open Owlbear in a few months. He'll be contacting some local steel-manufacturing companies to see if they can create new doors, but he really hopes tips or surveillance footage from other neighborhood businesses help locate the stolen ones.

And fortunately, there's still one working smoker, which he'll be firing up on February 10 for a rauchbier (a German-style smoke beer) release party at Bierstadt Lagerhaus just a couple of blocks away. But he'll need both smokers to keep up with demand once the restaurant is ready to open and blow the doors of the competition.
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation