September 15, 2006

Goodbye Potato’s, hello Goodberry’s

The life expectancy for a restaurant is a brief 2 1⁄2 years. But Potato Brumbaugh’s in Greeley beat the odds with a successful run ten times that long, but owner Rob Haimson has now dropped the curtain. He closed his place for good on its 25th anniversary: Aug. 16.

Then, without missing a beat, on Aug. 17 Haimson exercised his new real estate license and closed the sale on the building, its contents and the land beneath it to Ron Livesay, his friend and fourth-generation Colorado restaurateur. Livesay will open Goodberry’s in the space by mid-September.

Haimson is not looking back. In fact, as soon as the sale was complete, he got on his bike and put Colorado in his rearview mirror.

“I sold it, and it was time,” he said, speaking from California. “We were there for 25 years. Now I’m done and have nothing more to say about it.”

However, marking the moment seems in order.

“It’s a beautiful restaurant,” Livesay said. “Maybe people don’t notice that it’s built in the shape of a potato crib.”

In fact, a new generation of diners, who came for the food without having read James Michener’s 1974 epic, “Centennial” or watched the mini-series of the same name, could have missed the literary allusion altogether. (Hans Brumbaugh, Michener’s fictional farmer, irrigated his land in a fictionalized Weld County and became wildly successful growing potatoes, hence the nickname.)

A name that loses its resonance is one thing, but the closing of Toddy’s grocery store in Cottonwood Plaza in 2004 and the drift of dining establishments to the west signaled to Haimson that it was time to leave a career to which he had made significant contributions.

“Rob was given the Distinguished Service Award by the Colorado Restaurant Association,´ said Lynn Bronikowski, public relations consultant for the CRA. “He was also chairman of the association.”

Does that kind of history suggest that Haimson may return someday to the restaurant business?

“Not likely that I’ll open another one,” he said.

So to Rob Haimson, farewell, and may Goodberry’s fare as well. Livesay feels very good about the deal. How he came to buy the property and the land, however, is another story.

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A failing grade, or eminent domain wins

Goodberry’s had been a family-dining favorite in Arvada almost as long as Potato’s had been in Greeley – 23 years – and its days were just as certainly numbered.

“We knew it was eventually coming,´ said Livesay. “We had been looking for a new location for a couple of years, but hadn’t found one when the state gave us 90 days to get off the property so that the grade for the railroad crossing could be improved.”

Since Livesay did not own the building or the property, he received no compensation for the loss of his business, where approximately 250,000 people per year ate breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“We will bring the concept and the name to Greeley,” he said. “We make all our cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls and biscuits in house. We make our soups and sauces from scratch. And if something’s not on the menu that a customer wants and we have the ingredients in the house, we’ll make it.”

Livesay said at the end of August that to open by mid-September he was “working on a prayer and a promise from a lot of subcontractors.” In addition, there have been some bureaucratic matters he has had to deal with, including a major upgrade in the fire system.

“We’re rushing, rushing, rushing to get the new system in,” he said. “Rob’s staff is coming with us and the new concept.”

Now that Walgreen’s has opened where Toddy’s used to be as Cottonwood Plaza’s new anchor, a good concept and a good location should have a good shot at success.

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Chefs: The next generation

Chef Florian Wehrli of Chimney Park Bistro in Windsor knew from the time he opened the restaurant with partner Eric Markley that one of his goals would be to support the next generation of chefs. Teaming up with Chef2Chef.net, an online communication site, he started the Chef2Chef Culinary Extravaganza in 2004.

“That first year we raised $6,500 for culinary grants of $1,000 each,” Wehrli said.

In 2005, 14 grants were given. In 2006, the program extended its reach to host a second extravaganza in Grand Junction, held in conjunction with Two Rivers Winery. That event raised $6,000, while the August sellout event in Windsor raised $13,000.

“We had chefs from Washington, Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Missouri and the United Kingdom,” Wehrli said. “Two previous grant winners worked side by side with the chefs.”

For additional information, go to www.chimneypark.com/special_events/culinary_fundraisers/Chef2Chef.html.

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Run, Gib, run!

Brian Long, a.k.a. Gib, maker of authentic bagels in Fort Collins, is well known for his support of local charities. He’s running the New York City Marathon in November (before her turns 40) with Fred’s Team, which supports the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. To meet his donation goal of $4,500, Brian has set out tubs with the exhortation to “Chuck in a buck!” next to tip jars at all three Gib’s NY Bagel shops. He’s also accepting donations at his own page on https://fredsteam.mskcc.org/fundraising.

Jane D. Albritton is a contributing writer for the Northern Colorado Business Report. Her monthly column features restaurant and hospitality industry news. She can be contacted at jane@tigerworks.com.

The life expectancy for a restaurant is a brief 2 1⁄2 years. But Potato Brumbaugh’s in Greeley beat the odds with a successful run ten times that long, but owner Rob Haimson has now dropped the curtain. He closed his place for good on its 25th anniversary: Aug. 16.

Then, without missing a beat, on Aug. 17 Haimson exercised his new real estate license and closed the sale on the building, its contents and the land beneath it to Ron Livesay, his friend and fourth-generation Colorado restaurateur. Livesay will open Goodberry’s in the space by mid-September.

Haimson is not looking…

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