Ty Fulcher

Cocktail bar designed as oasis from stress

Last summer, many visitors to downtown Fort Collins wondered what would come from the construction project below Tula on Mountain Avenue, but no lighted sign or canvas “coming soon” banner would appear to satisfy their curiosity. Instead, a clock and small plaque reading “Social” would be the only clues for what was to come. It was intriguing enough to attract a line on opening day in September and most evenings since. Ty Fulcher, one of the cocktail bar and charcuterie’s owners, shared why.

Question: How long have you wanted to open a cocktail bar, and what made you decide that it was time?

Answer: In 1998 I was working at an outstanding restaurant in Gig Harbor, Wash., under chef Gordon Naccaratto. During service I would watch him walk the floor, talking to guests, checking plates as they left the kitchen, making sure every little detail was perfect and service was seamless. It inspired my passion for genuine hospitality more than anything else. I have always wanted to open my own place, and with my sommelier background a place with the focus on beverage was a given. Fort Collins is one of the greatest craft beer cities out there. On a daily basis, you see people with intense passion and enthusiasm for beer – talking, tasting and just geeking out. We wanted to create an outlet for us to share our passion for spirits and wine with them, and there was no time like the present.

Q: Where did the inspiration for Social come from?

A: Social is a craft cocktail bar that pulls some inspiration from Prohibition. We are not a speakeasy but want to keep the history attached to what we do. Some of the décor and design has been compiled from years of visiting bars around the world and the little things that stick with you from travel. We wanted a place where anyone could come and relax, drink, eat and (no pun intended) be social – a place where hospitality is our No. 1 focus and where we can share our craft with our guests.

Q: Downtown Fort Collins already has quite a few bars. What made you choose the location you did, and what makes you stand out among the other bars downtown?

A: We wanted to help bring the adult crowd back toward the heart and soul of Old Town, the square. Late night in the square can get a little intense, and many adults would stay on the outskirts of the area to avoid the college crowds. We also wanted to bring a new view on cocktails and food that Fort Collins had not yet seen much of; the importance of ice, classic punches, aperitifs and our main food focus of charcuterie.

Q: Was opening it up in a basement part of the original design, or something that came about based on where you were able to find the space?

A: When you look at successful cities and their expansions, they first start to expand out laterally from the heart. As they become more successful they begin to expand vertically. Look at Larimer Square in Denver. It used to be just the street level and now there are multiple restaurants and stores located underneath and on second and even third floors. That we are starting to see more places above and below grade open is a very good sign of Old Town Fort Collins success so far.

The location was an incredible find. We had been looking for a few years, had a few locations fall through and then we found this. It had been a storage room since 1983 and, when looking back through Gene Mitchell’s original plans for the building, he had it labeled as a restaurant space. What better way to honor Mr. Mitchell’s design and vision for Old Town.

The design was a combination of my business partner Ryan and his wife Christine, and my wife Emilee and I. When we finally got the space cleared out to a blank canvas we sat in the space for days brainstorming layout, and more importantly, an entrance. We built the stairwell on Mountain Avenue as our main entrance to give ease of parking with the parking garage as well as to keep it far enough away from the “taxi pick-up” area that can get “interesting” late night on weekends.

Q: In a few sentences, what is your cocktail/food philosophy?
A: Chef Thomas Keller once said, “When we eat together, when we set out to do so deliberately, life is better, no matter what your circumstances.” The name Social is there for a reason. We want people to be able to set the stresses of life aside and just enjoy what is in front of you; whether it be food, drink or friends. We have tried to make our drink and food be a conversation starter. We do that through drinks that arrive at the table smoking, unique hand-cut ice balls, displaying our charcuterie slicer behind glass for all to see, etc. In addition, we have many communal tables throughout Social to help promote conversation and meeting other members of the community.

Q: Has business thus far met your expectations?
A: It has without a doubt exceeded my expectations. Everyone has been so receptive to what we are trying to do and so supportive. But without a doubt no one deserves the credit for our opening success more than our staff. This marks my 17th year in the hospitality industry and I have never worked with such a dedicated, knowledgeable and genuine group of people. Outside of our front door we have a pineapple, which is the international sign for hospitality. A few weeks ago I realized that our entire staff touches the pineapple on their way in the door like the Notre Dame “Play Like a Champion” sign. It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. They just get it.

Last summer, many visitors to downtown Fort Collins wondered what would come from the construction project below Tula on Mountain Avenue, but no lighted sign or canvas “coming soon” banner would appear to satisfy their curiosity. Instead, a clock and small plaque reading “Social” would be the only clues for what was to come. It was intriguing enough to attract a line on opening day in September and most evenings since. Ty Fulcher, one of the cocktail bar and charcuterie’s owners, shared why.

Question: How long have you wanted to open a cocktail bar, and what made you decide that it was time?

Answer: In 1998 I was working at an outstanding restaurant in Gig Harbor, Wash., under chef Gordon Naccaratto. During service I would watch him walk the floor, talking to guests, checking plates as they left the kitchen, making sure every little detail was perfect and service was seamless. It inspired my passion for genuine hospitality more than anything else. I have always wanted to open my own place, and with my sommelier background a place with the focus on beverage was a given. Fort Collins is one of the greatest craft beer cities out there. On a daily basis, you see people with intense passion and enthusiasm for beer – talking, tasting and just geeking out. We wanted to create an outlet for us to share our passion for spirits and wine with them, and there was no time like the present.

Q: Where…