Punch Bowl Social lands at Stapleton

The former Stapleton Airport air traffic center is set to be redeveloped. Photo by George Demopoulos.

The former Stapleton Airport air traffic center is set to be redeveloped. Photo by George Demopoulos.

The old Stapleton Airport is making the shift from runways to bowling lanes.

Punch Bowl Social announced Monday that it will be opening its second Denver location in the former Stapleton Airport air traffic control center next March. Punch Bowl Social will also be relocating its corporate office from Glendale to Stapleton.

The first and second floors of the three-story, 22,000-square-foot structure adjacent to the tower will be dedicated to the restaurant and entertainment. The third floor will house the company’s office.

Punch Bowl Social will be purchasing the 2-acre parcel at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Unita Street where the control tower stands. The company plans to extensively remodel the building, adding a parking lot and another 5,600 square feet.

The sum of land acquisition and development costs will come in at about $6 million and will be financed primarily by FirstBank.

“The residents of Stapleton are hungry for things to do in that neighborhood,” Punch Bowl Social founder Robert Thompson said.

He cited Stapleton’s young, middle-class demographic and rapid growth rate as reasons for selecting the location.

See renderings for the property. Images courtesy of Punch Bowl Social

See renderings for the property. Images courtesy of Punch Bowl Social.

“There’s 17,000 people who live in the surrounding area, plus another 14,000 moving into the second phase of Stapleton by the Northfield Mall,” he said.

Those demographics differ from the single professionals who frequent Punch Bowl Social’s Broadway location.

But Thompson isn’t changing the concept. The new location will have all the same amenities as its original Broadway restaurant, including a bar and restaurant, bowling alley, ping-pong tables, private karaoke rooms, skee-ball and other arcade games.

“A Punch Bowl is a Punch Bowl is a Punch Bowl,” Thompson said.

Thompson said he hopes the restaurant will establish a presence for the brand beyond Stapleton.

“It’s not just going to be a Stapleton draw,” he said. “Because of the iconic tower, it’s going to draw from the surrounding area.”

Without an elevator that goes all the way to the top, Punch Bowl Social can’t use the air traffic control tower due to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We have to figure that out,” Thompson said. “Jokingly, we’ve been trying to find a way to bungee jump off of it – if we can find a way to do it and an insurance company to cover it.”

Punch Bowl Social hired Denver-based Oz Architecture to design the renovations for the building. Oz has designed Punch Bowl Social’s Austin and Detroit locations, as well as its upcoming Chicago and Cleveland restaurants.

“This project is one of those rare opportunities we have as designers,” said Rebecca Stone, managing principal for Oz. “A visionary client, an iconic mid-century modern building to spring for inspiration, and the chance to creatively adapt this piece of Denver history into a venue for the entire community.”

BusinessDen first reported in February that Punch Bowl Social intended to open a second Denver location. You can read more about Punch Bowl Social’s expansion plan here.

Thompson said that the Stapleton location isn’t going to be the last one in Denver.

“We’re still looking to do something down south,” he said.

BusinessDen previously reported that Thompson looked at buying Elitch Lanes on Tennyson, but couldn’t make the numbers work. That building will become a Natural Grocer.

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