Nathan Stern and Zach Cytryn could see the eyebrows of investors and customers furrow when discussing their new Pueblo food hall, downtown Denver bar and brokerage firm — all of which are named Fuel & Iron.
It’s a reference to the Colorado Fuel & Iron, a steel mill that once employed 15,000 in the southern Colorado city.
The pair of local brokers opened Fuel & Iron Bar, which has a Pueblo theme, at 1526 Blake St. in April as a way to market the new food hall, which they hope to open in Pueblo in December.
Five months later, however, the bar is getting a remodel — and a new name.
“We thought it would be a great cross-promotion, but people kept getting confused on whether we’re talking about Denver or Pueblo,” Cytryn said. “So, I think having a new name will be helpful.”
Cytryn and Stern are working with Lexi Healy and Veronica Ramos, who own the pirate-themed tiki bar on the second floor above Fuel & Iron Bar, to revamp the space.
“Nathan and I have other full-time jobs and we need someone who can operate this floor and give it the time it deserves,” Cytryn said.
The pair plan to close Fuel & Iron Bar at the end of September for a couple of weeks and reopen in October as Honor Farm. Ramos and Healy, who also own Electric Cure in Edgewater, were clients of Stern and Cytryn and will be co-owners of Honor Farm.
“Lexi was my client on the broker side, and I helped her find Electric Cure, and we stayed in touch,” Cytryn said. “I really think she’s a good marketer, designer and has the ability to create some of the coolest spaces in Denver. Nathan and my long term goal is to partner and invest in clients we believe in, so we’re excited to do that here.”
Honor Farm will be a haunted-themed bar with spooky decorations and drinks. It’s named after a Pueblo farm that was part of the Colorado State Insane Asylum in the early days, where patients would grow fruits and vegetables and milk cows.
“The people of Pueblo told us to call it Honor Farm when we were planning to transition into a more haunted theme,” Cytryn said. “We wanted to keep our Pueblo ties in the bar, but in a more subtle way.”
Honor Farm’s LoDo space has its own sordid history that inspired the haunted theme. The building, one of the oldest in Denver, first opened as a saloon back in the 1860s and was used as a brothel back in the day. It’s rumored to host a ghost named Lydia, who died on the property after being pushed down the stairs, according to previous coverage.
“We have weird stuff happen to us all the time here,” Healy said. “Everything from simple scares, like things falling off the shelf unexpectedly to a cigar smell that followed us throughout the basement and halfway up the stairs.”
Healy and Ramos, former bartenders turned restaurant owners, opened a speakeasy called Hell or High Water within Fuel & Iron’s mezzanine in July. The small upstairs bar is filled with art made by Healy and quirky decorations.
They plan to do the same for Honor Farm, including showcasing a collection of 60 vintage stuffed owls, reconfiguring the bar’s floor to look like a tomb, adding smoke machines throughout, and even creating a haunted bookcase, where books fly off the shelf when you order a certain drink. They also want to host horror-themed trivia nights, drag brunches and haunted tours throughout the space.
“It will be the same feeling as a Halloween pop-up, except we’re not coming down,” Healy said. “For us to not lean into the idea of being in one of the most haunted places in Denver felt like an injustice.”
But Cytryn and Stern will keep subtle nods to Pueblo throughout. The menu will largely stay the same, including slopper sliders, Pueblo-style poutine, chili-flavored beer in chilled goblet glasses called schooners, and the “ThunderWolf Margarita,” a nod to Colorado State University Pueblo’s mascot.
The mural of the steelworkers, completed by Pueblo native Dan Levinson, will be altered slightly with Healy and Levinson’s help. They plan to add a spooky, peeling wallpaper over it and add animal heads to the workers.
“There will still be subtle nods, which if you’re from Pueblo, you’ll understand,” Cytryn said. “If you’re not from Pueblo, you’ll probably eventually ask about it after visiting a few times and we can educate them on Honor Farm and the ties to Pueblo. But I like that it’s not as in your face.”
Honor Farm and Hell or High Water will continue to be two separate businesses. Healy said she hopes to keep Hell or High Water open during Honor Farm’s remodel to get people more interested in the new concept. Honor Farm will open Tuesday through Sunday starting at 4 p.m., and Hell or High Water is open on the same days starting at 5 p.m.