July 3, 2014 Updated: July 3, 2014 at 6:15 pm
Cowboy Star Restaurant and Butcher Shop, an upscale San Diego steakhouse that mixes fine dining with western themes, will open its first location outside California when it comes to the University Village Colorado retail center in Colorado Springs later this year.
The restaurant will occupy a building east of Costco Wholesale Club at University Village, a regional shopping center northwest of Nevada Avenue and Garden of the Gods Road. It's targeting a November opening.
Cowboy Star combines a steakhouse with an actual butcher shop, said Jon Weber, one of three co-owners along with his wife, Angie, and executive chef Victor Jimenez.
The restaurant opened in San Diego six years ago; the owners' vision was to create a place where guests could relax and escape.
For Weber, that conjured up childhood memories of watching vintage TV westerns on Saturday mornings - the ultimate form of escapism where cowboys rode off into the sunset, he said. And yet, in designing the restaurant, Weber said the goal was to jazz up its look and feel.
The result was a dining room that has white tablecloths, leather booths and chairs, a fireplace and polished surfaces of tile and stainless steel, along with Douglas Fir ceiling beams and the occasional photo of an old cowboy. Renderings of the Colorado Springs restaurant have some of the same touches.
Colorado was a natural location for a second restaurant because of its western heritage, Weber said. The developers of University Village, meanwhile, had eaten at Cowboy Star while in San Diego on business, liked the concept and invited the owners to consider their retail center, Weber said.
The Springs' western influence - the city is home to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy, along with the annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo - made it a perfect fit, Weber said.
"Colorado Springs seems to embrace that western feel or that western way of life," he said. "That's a core of what we're doing as far as our brand."
Cowboy Star's owners also liked University Village, which is home to other sit-down restaurants such as Hacienda Colorado and Bonefish Grill, several fast-casual restaurants and anchors that include Costco, a Kohl's Department Store and Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse. The Springs' first Trader Joe's grocery is scheduled to open in 2015 at University Village.
Cowboy Star's owners branded the restaurant as a home for contemporary American cuisine, Weber said. But as Cowboy Star gained a reputation for steaks during its first few years, its owners decided to embrace the public's perception of the restaurant.
"At some point, we kind of stopped fighting what people thought of us," he said. "We accepted the moniker of steakhouse because at a certain point, if you confuse your guests, and they think you're a steakhouse and you keep telling them you're contemporary American, there's confusion between what your message is and what people see."
The restaurant's menu shows dinner prices that are on the pricey side, but Weber said the Cowboy Star would be on par with other upper-end Springs' steakhouses and restaurants such as The Famous and MacKenzie's Chop House.
The Springs' restaurant will be about 6,100 square feet and employ 55 to 60 full- and part-time workers, Weber said. The San Diego location is about 5,000 square feet and has about 40 employees.
The butcher shop will have its own entrance for non-restaurant customers who want to purchase meats and have them cut and trimmed to order, Weber said. The shop also will be linked to the restaurant, and diners can have their steaks specially cut there if they want something different from what they'll see on the menu, he said.
University Village developer Kevin Kratt said Cowboy Star fits his vision of making the retail center a dining destination with multiple choices; some buildings were designed and constructed with restaurant specifications in mind, he said. The building where Cowboy Star will locate was specifically targeted for a high-end restaurant, Kratt said
"We had just been holding off for that signature tenant and Cowboy Star is the signature tenant we've been looking for over the last five years," Kratt said.
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