For the first Wobbly Olive restaurant and cocktail lounge, co-owner Sean Fitzgerald signed the lease on a dare — and in just 40 days. For the second, he’s deliberately taking his time.
With his wife and Wobbly Olive co-owner Inez, Fitzgerald had initially floated January as a possible opening date for the second Wobbly Olive location on the Westside at 2611 W. Colorado Ave., next to TAPAteria.
Now it’s looking like April.
For the most part, it’s because working on the building — more than a century old — requires special care. It was once home to Jacob Schmidt’s Saloon and Beer Hall, the first tavern in Old Colorado City, Fitzgerald explains.
“We’re working delicately with the city because it’s a historical building and obviously there are some considerations to take,” he said. “We’re shooting for April — but really our commitment is when we’re ready, we’re ready.
“We applied for our permits in August and we thought that, like our other locations, it would take maybe a month and we’d be underway — but there were a lot more things to consider like fire safety and making sure things are done appropriately. It’s not as easy as just slapping in a sprinkler system; you have to think about new mains coming into the building but then you’re tearing down part of the historical brick.
“There’s all of this stuff to try to work through that has been fun — a frustrating but fun challenge.”
The red-brick building’s bragging rights as the first tavern in Old Colorado City weren’t a consideration when it was chosen, Fitzgerald said. They’d been looking for a Westside location for years, he said, and he was “not jazzed at all” when he first heard about the place.
“I said, ‘I just got done with a project; I’ll come look at it when I have a chance.’ I went there, looked at it — I was completely blown away. I knew nothing about the building, but when I walked in, immediately I saw what it could be and I saw what the potential was.
“I said, ‘Whatever it is, I’ll take it.’ Well as it turned out, it was the Jacob Schmidt Tavern. There’s old pictures of the owner, Jacob Schmidt, behind his bar, very close to where we’re putting our new bar inside the location.
“It has a cool story and a neat history, but we learned all that after we had already taken it. It just absolutely felt right.”
This will be restaurant No. 4 for Fitzgerald, after the original Wobbly Olive at 3317 Cinema Pt., Sakura Speakeasy, and The Collective, which he co-owns with Phil Arana.
New executive chef Supansa Banker, formerly of 2South Food + Wine Bar and The Broadmoor, has overseen “all of the culinary arts for all of our locations, so she’s been tremendously busy,” Fitzgerald said.
Patrons at the new Wobbly Olive spot can expect to settle in with the same menu as the Eastside location.
“We debated whether we wanted to have a mainstay menu with an Eastside option and a Westside option, and ultimately we decided to make both menus absolutely the same,” Fitzgerald said. “The logic behind it was … that we can cross-utilize our staff, versus making it so specialized that they’re not qualified to go to another location — and we’re not done opening Wobbly Olives. We have quite a bit of interest in putting one more north — maybe Baptist Road, somewhere in that area.”
For now, Fitzgerald is reveling in the process of bringing the second Wobbly Olive to life.
“The fun thing about the Westside location is actually all of the other [restaurant] owners and their support,” he said. “I’ve been able to talk to Jay [Gust] from TAPAteria and [Pizzeria Rustica], and he answers any questions, and Franco [Pisani] at Paravicini’s [Italian Bistro] and Scotty [Sultzbaugh] at Alchemy — they’ve all come together. … Some people could have seen it like competition, but these guys all understand when the tide comes in, all boats rise. They’ve been tremendous.”