Renovations are nearly complete at the Needle Rock Brewing Company, where a grand opening celebration is being planned for Saturday, Oct. 28, from 4 to 11 p.m.
Where others saw a vacant building which had housed several failed restaurants, Sam Kimbriel saw one of the neatest buildings in Delta. With a background in real estate and renovation, he noted much of the same potential as he viewed in an unfinished lodge he purchased in Crawford in 2014. At that time, he gave up a successful real estate career on the Front Range and moved to western Colorado. After transforming the lodge into a "spectacular" place, he decided to purchase the old Fireside at 820 Highway 92. He thought of renting the building to a restaurant using the contacts he'd established in the Denver area. Perhaps he could turn the building into a shared work space.
Then, about a week after closing, Kimbriel got a call from Gaylen Kinser, a pastor in Paonia, who said his son Kenneth was thinking about moving back to Paonia. For 13 years, Kenneth Kinser was an executive chef at the Yard House, a chain of sports bars with three locations in the Denver area.
The two met and immediately formed a strong connection.
"We talked, and I realized this is a guy who knows about food," Kimbriel said. The Needle Rock Brewing Company was born.
The two stress Needle Rock is not a bar, but a brewery with a selection of Colorado craft beers and local wines that will pair wonderfully with a menu that's unique to Delta.
While the Yard House offered 135 beers on tap, the primary focus was great food. Kimbriel and Kinser share the same vision for the Needle Rock Brewing Company -- a restaurant offering gourmet food that people can afford ... food people haven't had a chance to try, made with meats and produce from local sources whenever available.
The menu -- described as a "fun read" -- was developed with input from the restaurant's Facebook followers. Kimbriel and Kinser were told a chicken fried steak was a must. Others said no menu was complete without meat loaf. Both had been done so many times, they decided to make a buffalo meatloaf and turn it into chicken fried steak. "That's really the style we want, high-flavor profiles for the working man," Kinser said.
Other menu items include a baked white truffle duck confit mac and cheese, chicken 'n waffles, burgers, flavorful barbecued ribs, two steaks cut from Colorado grass-fed beef, and more.
The restaurant will spotlight great Colorado craft beers and wines, primarily from the Western Slope. Jack Rabbit Hill is bottling the red and white house wines; four beers are exclusive to the Needle Rock. They're currently brewed elsewhere, but within a year Kimbriel expects to be licensed to brew on site.
Renovations to the interior and exterior of the building have been extensive. The bar has been moved upstairs, and the lower level has been transformed into a casual area known as the "back yard," complete with astroturf flooring, picnic tables, outdoor couches and games the entire family can enjoy.
To take advantage of the views of Grand Mesa to the north, window coverings were removed from the interior and a patio is being constructed outside. Corrugated steel, reclaimed pallets and funky light fixtures lend an industrial feel to the interior. From the main dining area, customers can watch their food being prepared in the open kitchen.
The banquet room will be ready for holiday parties, and a smaller dining area will accommodate more intimate gatherings.
The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner every day except Tuesday.
Kimbriel and Kinser embody the values they bring to the restaurant -- integrity, excellence, innovation, teamwork and community involvement. They believe their success will be the success of their employees, and the success of the community as a whole.
"We want to do good things for Delta," Kimbriel said. "I'm an entrepreneur and my goal is always to bring value to the community. We want to do what we can to make Delta County a great place to live, maybe attract people to this area."
"We're very passionate about what we think we can do," Kinser said.