After taking some big hits during the 2009 Great Recession, followed by the 2013 Black Forest fire, the owners of The Pinery at Black Forest plan to sell the wedding and events venue in northern Colorado Springs.
That’s the word from Mitch Yellen, founder, president and CEO of The Pinery Enterprises, which also owns the Garden of Gods Gourmet and Catering, Taste at the Fine Arts Center and The Pinery on the Hill on the Westside of Colorado Springs.
“The owners decided to move on. We own everything outright, so there’s not really pressure [to sell soon],” Yellen said, adding that the group hasn’t yet settled on an asking price.
But the wedding-and-events venue could change dramatically in its next iteration.
“There are four groups we are talking to. People are looking at it for a mortuary, wedding venue and a church,” Yellen said.
The Pinery LLC purchased the 4.94-acre venue in 2005 for $225,000, according to records at the El Paso County Assessor’s Office. The assessor listed the property’s total value at $1.33 million. The property includes a 16,000 square-foot building and a 10,000 square-foot outdoor patio.
Yellin’s known for moving quickly. His company purchased The Pinery on the Hill, which opened during 2013 after $14 million in renovations. That same year, they purchased and renovated Garden of the Gods Gourmet on Highway 24 for $1.5 million. This year, the company gained the contract for the restaurant Taste at the Fine Arts Center and became the exclusive caterer for the United States Olympic Training Center.
“We’re the official caterer for the U.S. Olympics. The Broadmoor could not believe we beat them out,” Yellen said. “We have certain standards of hospitality and food.”
But the company has even bigger plans.
Restaurant in the works
Yellen and his 35 investors broke ground this week on an $11.5 million, 17,000-square-foot restaurant and market off Powers and Briargate boulevards, next to Target. It’s set for a 2016 opening.
TILL will replicate the dining choices at the Garden of the Gods Gourmet and Catering, and cash in on the local demand for high-quality foods, he said.
The restaurant’s name come from farming to “till the ground to plant crops,” he said. TILL will serve GMO-free foods from more than 100 local farms and will also offer gluten-free items. The business plan involves investing in greenhouses and farms nearby.
All the food served at TILL will be “clean,” he said, with “no toxins, no artificial anything. The food industry is not telling people the bad stuff in the foods.”
The restaurant will sport a full bar, private rooms and event seating for 385 people.
Yellen says he was motivated by his sister, who died last year of cancer. She had been given six months to live 20 years ago, but shortly after diagnosis, she switched her diet to juicing healthy foods. Yellen also began juicing, and soon his acid reflux stopped — all of which he attributes to eating more healthy food.
And Yellin reportedly plans other locations around the state — Castle Rock, Highlands Ranch, Boulder and Fort Collins within the next three years.
Most notably, the business group plans to offer healthy food and a market in the Briargate area.
He says he’s heard from Doug Quimby, president of development company LaPlata Communities, that people are asking for better choices in Briargate. La Plata, among other interests, is the developer behind Cordera, a subdivision just off Briargate Parkway.
“If you live in Briargate, you go to the Promenade Shops at Briargate by default,” he said, “where you’ve got California Pizza Kitchen, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Panera Bread.”
He is also inviting his employees to invest in the company.
“Tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit, we’re about to launch a program next year for them to have stock in the facilities,” Yellen said.
The company now has 150 employees, 27 managers and nine chefs. By February, Yellen expects to employ 250 people and 40 managers.