That September, Guard announced that he and his business partners had purchased the building lock, stock and barrel (literally, since the old brewery left behind its oak beer-aging barrels) and were planning to turn it into a modern food hall with multiple counters and bars. While the COVID pandemic slowed progress on the project considerably, construction is now in full swing, and Guard expects to have the place, which he has named Grange Hall, open to the public this August.
Looking out from the south-facing windows of Grange Hall, it's easy to envision rolling ranchland stretching from where a new patio will soon be installed all the way to Pikes Peak (visible in the distance even on a hazy day), even if the view is now dominated by the rooftops of housing developments and shopping centers. The building sits on the brow of a hill, so there's nothing blocking the vista (for now, it also includes a shuttered Macaroni Grill and the vacant parking lot of a Regal movie theater off Arapahoe Road). The new patio will seat about 75 guests, and an existing east-facing patio will add another thirty or so outdoor seats for a total of 2,500 square feet of open-air dining. On the south side, garage windows will be added to open the dining room onto the patio. A big parking lot is also part of the property; Guard plans to host outdoor events like markets, concerts and festivals there.
Several food counters are currently being installed, only two of which will serve food from Guard's TAG Restaurant Group (TRG), a lineup that includes TAG, Los Chingones, TAG Burger Bar, Guard and Grace, Bubu, HashTAG and FNG. "I originally wanted to do all the food myself, because I love to cook, but we decided it would be more fun to give other cooks the opportunity and to give guests more variety," he explains.
One of Guard's contributions will be another location of Bubu, his fast-casual concept that serves grain and noodle bowls, and the other will be a thick-crust-pizza concept. The same demented bricklayer who created the pillars also built a brick fireplace and chimney that rises in wavy rows all the way to the ceiling; Guard is installing a pizza oven at its base to give the illusion that square-pan pizzas will be emerging straight from the massive hearth. "We've never done pizza at TRG," he admits, but he's been working on recipes that will be ready to go come August. The specialty will be pizza al taglio, a Roman style with a thick, airy crust baked on sheet trays. It will also serve other Italian-style bites and boards to provide more shareable options.
Past the first three stations will be a fried chicken concept, a central sushi bar, an ice cream and coffee counter, and a space that will likely serve barbecue. Most of the vendors haven't been nailed down yet, and Guard's still collecting applications. But he's already excited about the fried chicken concept: It will be Crack Shack, a San Diego-based company with six current locations in southern California and Las Vegas. This will be the first Colorado outpost for Crack Shack, which is known for saucy, spicy chicken sandwiches as well as whole fried birds.
Beyond the main food hall, a second room will offer even more seating. West-facing and surrounded by big windows, the room will probably be devoted to lounge seating and TVs.
Guard notes that a new Arapahoe Entertainment District has been designated for the area, known more in the past for its office buildings than its nightlife possibilities. But Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre is located less than a block away, and in addition to the existing (though temporarily closed) movie theater, there's also a planned dining/entertainment complex complete with a bowling alley. New apartment buildings in the neighborhood have sprung up recently, and a light-rail station is within easy walking distance, too.
Guard's focus hasn't been solely dedicated to his upcoming food hall. He's also targeting June for the opening of a Fort Collins outpost of Los Chingones at 3541 East Harmony Road, and he also added Big Wave Taco to another food hall, Junction Food & Drink, last fall. Like Grange Hall, the Fort Collins Los Chingones will have expansive outdoor seating and murals from local artists.
Grange Hall may be a much different kind of gathering center than the farming and ranching spots of the past, but Guard is hoping to build a new kind of destination for the residents of these former prairies.