Chile-flavored beer and Pueblo culture arrive in Denver with new bar

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Adjusting the backlit bar menu, which includes a beer named after the Bessemer furnaces used in the steel mills of Pueblo, at Fuel and Iron, a new restaurant soon to open in Denver’s LoDo neighborhood. April 25, 2022.

Pueblo’s cuisine and culture are the inspiration for a new downtown Denver bar expected to open Thursday. The Fuel and Iron Bar will serve Pueblo-style poutine, slopper sliders and chile flavored beer, along with southern Colorado cheeses and produce.

“We're really trying to honor the city's heritage, both as an industrial powerhouse and also as an agricultural powerhouse,” said developer Nathan Stern.

The aim is to introduce Pueblo and its culture to people who aren’t familiar with it, along with serving others who already know and love it, according to Stern.

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A large mural depicting Pueblo steel mill workers relaxing after their shift adorns the south wall of Fuel and Iron, a restaurant soon to open in Denver’s LoDo neighborhood. Co-owner Zach Cytryn works on bar menu stencils, April 25, 2022.
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Co-owner Nathan Stern at Fuel and Iron, April 25, 2022.

The interior decor pays homage to the city’s steelworking heritage, including a large mural of steelworkers painted by local Pueblo artist Dan Levinson, according to Stern. It composites five archival photos of people set against a background showing the Colorado Fuel and Iron steel mill that’s been a part of Pueblo since the late 1800s.

A rotating gallery of historic images shows the Arkansas River, city scenes, and the Colorado State Fair, Stern said. They're also planning to hang agricultural photos shot at nearby farms and a neon sign that says, “The pepper is mightier than the sword.” 

“We don't just want to be like a novelty place that you only come to if you love Pueblo,” Stern said. “We really want to be a great bar with great drinks and great design and a great location with a cool menu.”

The Fuel and Iron Bar is in the former Brass Tacks on Blake Street, which closed last year due to pandemic-related challenges. Stern said they believe the downtown Denver area is recovering enough to support their latest project.

Stern and his partners are also developing a food hall in Pueblo called the Fuel and Iron in a three-story red-brick building near the Arkansas River. The iconic 100-plus-year-old Holmes Hardware building is in Pueblo's historic Union Avenue neighborhood.

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The Holmes Hardware building sits near the Arkansas River in Pueblo's downtown historic Union Avenue District. Built in the early 1900s, it's being remodeled into a food hall and apartments. April 24, 2022.
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Zach Heffernan polishes bar glasses at Fuel and Iron, April 25, 2022.

This fall, if everything goes according to plan, it’ll house the food hall on the main floor and 28 affordable living spaces above. The idea is to create a food and beverage incubator space for Southern Coloradans, according to Stern.

“These entrepreneurs are able to open their first location,” he said, “then gain that customer base and that revenue and that track record to then open up their own brick and mortar restaurant.”

Plans also include a one acre urban farm, parking and more housing on the site. The more than $15 million project is funded by private and public money, including more than 100 crowdfunding investors.

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