Businesses spread wings in Pueblo, Springs

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It’s been three years since the Pueblo-born Bingo Burger opened on North Tejon Street. Several southern Colorado businesses are set up in both cities.

It’s a tale of two close, but diverse cities: Colorado Springs and Pueblo. Located less than an hour apart, business owners often find themselves asking “why not” when it comes to opening a second location in one of the two regions.

The reasons for doing so can vary, but commonly business owners cite market potential and proximity for managing.

At Bingo Burger, the Pueblo Chili combined with Colorado ground beef created a burger that was worth commuting to the Steel City for — but now customers in the Springs don’t have to make the drive.

“A second Bingo was opened in the Springs due to the traffic and press the Pueblo [Bingo Burger] had been receiving,” said Ken Stacks, creative director at Bingo Burger. “After Bingo in Pueblo had been open for a year or so, we began to draw customers who drove all the way down from the Springs, as apparently there was not anything like it elsewhere. After several years of being asked if he’d open a Bingo in the Springs,  [chef and owner] Richard [Warner] said ‘Fine!’ and, presto, Bingo [Colorado Springs] was born.”

It’s not usually as simple as “presto, bingo,” but location matters, he said.

“It hasn’t been easy juggling two separate locations, and the restaurant dynamic in the Springs is much different than that of Pueblo, but so far, so good,” said Stacks.

Stacks said Pueblo’s demographic is more blue collar than in Colorado Springs. There’s also more competition for good employees in Colorado Springs, as there are more food-service options.

According to Jeff Shaw, president and CEO of the Pueblo Economic Development Corp., there’s an extremely diverse workforce in the Arkansas River Valley.

“Because of the level of workforce diversity between the [Arkansas River Valley] communities, that opens up the possibilities of significant growth,” he said.

And Colorado is growing.

“There are a number of companies that maintain some level of operations in both communities,” Shaw said. “There’s a lot of cooperation between the two cities,” he added, citing Pueblo’s strong relationship with the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC.

“Any given time, you can go on [Interstate 25] and see people going north and south [between the two cities],” Shaw said. “The communities work well together.”

The proximity doesn’t hurt.

“It’s literally a 35-minute drive,” said Dr. William Herholtz, owner of Apex Audiology, which has offices in Colorado Springs and Pueblo (as well as Limon). “That factors in. It’s close enough to manage it well.”

Mickey Moore, president and CEO of Pueblo Bank & Trust, said the strong Colorado Springs market attracted his bank and led him to open branches in the city.

“We’ve grown into that market as well as Denver,” he said.

Moore cited Colorado Springs’ solid economy (including its military bases and real estate development businesses) as one of the reasons for its expansion north. As for competing with major, national banks: “We’re homegrown. We make local decisions and that’s the biggest thing,” he said.

As far as Rampart Supply goes (it has locations in Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Denver), Colin Perry, an owner of the wholesale distributor of commercial and residential plumbing supplies company, said Pueblo customers are true to their community.

“Pueblo customers are very loyal to Pueblo,” Perry said. It’s simply been a demand of the nearby, but different, markets, that prompted the openings in each location. “We have observed over the years that, to be successful, you have to have the local people to open a physical location. We’ve got good people and are heavily invested in our inventory.”

Shaw said the two communities will likely cross paths more in the near future.

“As Colorado grows, you’ll see a lot more of that cooperation [between Colorado Springs and Pueblo],” he said. “The leaders of both communities see a big benefit in working together.”