COLORADO SPRINGS — The current renaissance of South Tejon Street in Colorado Springs has brought with it an innovative spirit, which new business areas are hoping to harness, as they push forward to open during the coronavirus pandemic.
One such business, located in what’s called the Trolley District, hopes to bring a new style of dining to the city.
CO.A.T.I is named in part for a racoon-like animal that, loosely translated, means “Tejon”, and in part for its location inside the old trolley station, called the Colorado Automatic Trolley Interchange. CO.A.T.I plans to to open as a food hall, with enough space for seven separate bars and restaurants.
“A lot of creatives don’t necessarily have the business support to launch a full scale restaurant,” said Aaron Ewton. “We hope it makes it less scary. It’s something that’s accessible and I know a lot of the chefs and culinary artists that we’re partnering with feel like this accelerates their timelines by years.”
Ewton is co-owner of CO.A.T.I and owner of Atlas restaurant group, a restaurant support company with ties to businesses like Piglatin Cocina.
Restaurants will occupy the front space of the facility, while bars will be places further back and on the roof. Ewton hopes the layout creates an atmosphere more welcoming to everyone rather than just attracting the night life crowd.
“We really call this a hideout for all. We’ve been very deliberate in how we’re setting up seating in the space,” he said.
The seating area has expanded from original plans, one of many changes to occur during the course of the pandemic. Ewton and his partners have tripled the number of chairs and tables available, created a dining plan for the alley way behind the facility, and nixed plans for an indoor farmers market and event center.
“We made a lot of changes from this being a community-centric focused on engagement to everything designed a little more stationary.” he described, “We think it’s the right move and the smart move and what the community needs. They don’t necessarily need a space right now to put 250 people in close proximity to each other.”
Ewton hopes many of their original plans will eventually be realized, but with an opening date just about a month away, ensuring the space meets public health standards is the priority right now.
“It’s changed our operations, it’s changed our steps of service, it’s nothing we can’t overcome,” Ewton said.