Assuming most readers have waded through our special look-back at the stories and issues that shaped the year of 2014, we felt it would be appropriate to add an unexpected, additional exclamation mark at the end.
We always are watching as small businesses come and go, make progress and find their niches. Sometimes, they create enough momentum as a group to become worthy of recognition.
For example, we remember 2013 as the year of Ivywild School’s rebirth, with its collection of special businesses led by Bristol Brewing Co. combining to breathe exciting new life into the former elementary school.
And we already know enough about 2015 to anticipate the emergence of what might be called the East End, as two ambitious private ventures take shape — the O’Neil Group’s Catalyst Campus in the old train station and Nor’wood Development Group’s public-market area plans around the old Gazette and St. Francis Hospital buildings. In both cases, they’ll house different types of business entities, hopefully leading to more residential and commercial development.
As for 2014, we saw something else special unfolding, deserving of attention as the year ends. For us, 2014 has to go down as the Year of North Tejon, for many of the same reasons that Ivywild made 2013 stand out.
Along that stretch of downtown’s busiest street, we marveled over the past year at the community-building efforts that took hold. Four businesses stand out, but they aren’t alone.
Let’s start with the Wild Goose Meeting House, which opened in late 2013 but blossomed big-time in its first full year at the corner of Tejon and Boulder. The gathering place for superlative coffees, innovative sandwiches and positive energy soon turned into a favorite spot where you always see people you know — even if you’re meeting someone else. Yemi Mobolade (our featured Young Professional this week) and co-founder Russ Wade also have created a music venue, and now there’s talk of expansion and partnering in other areas.
Next is Tony’s Bar, which finally was able to make its move across Tejon to a much larger space next door to Poor Richard’s. Already revered by its customers and repeatedly honored as the city center’s top “neighborhood bar,” Tony’s now has upped its game as its business has exploded — again, another element of building community.
There’s also The Mezzanine, that remarkable project behind the Mansion (20 N. Tejon) combining the efforts and resources of downtown entrepreneurs Kathy and Sam Guadagnoli with the Colorado Springs Conservatory and its driving force, Linda Weise. It’s a nonprofit supporting the Conservatory and the local arts community, and it has caught on since opening in July.
We also should mention Epicentral Coworking, the role model for Colorado Springs’ shared working spaces. After outgrowing its original spot at 409 N. Tejon, co-founder Lisa Tessarowicz bought the office space next door in 2014, renovated it and multiplied Epicentral’s capacity to 7,000 square feet for more startups, telecommuters and freelancers.
Those businesses probably share some clientele, but the point is, they’re making something happen, all on North Tejon. And they’ll always remember 2014 as the year when they found their groove as community builders, which should be worth some kind of special honor.
We’ll start by applauding them here.