Boulder and Larimer County Beers at Gunbarrel Liquors

This is a replacement for the first version of this post. I had totally missed one of the beer cases!

I just dropped by Gunbarrel Liquors to see what local beers they stocked. Here’s the situation for the Boulder and Larimer breweries in the Colorado Top 10 (those counties in bold):

  1. New Belgium – yes
  2. Oscar Blues – yes
  3. Odell – yes
  4. Left Hand – yes
  5. Avery – yes
  6. Great Divide (Denver)
  7. Ska (Durango)
  8. Upslope – yes
  9. Crazy Mountain (Denver/Edwards)
  10. Boulder Beer – yes

So they have 7 of 7. King Soopers has 6 of 7. (Gunbarrel Liquors also has Great Divide and Ska; I didn’t check for Crazy Mountain.)

They also have canned beer from much smaller local breweries: Finkel & Garf, Wibby, Asher, and New Planet. King Soopers doesn’t have any of these.

The price for Finkel & Garf is the same as the price at the brewery across the street. (Same at Hazel, too.) So you could buy it at Gunbarrel Liquors to support Finkel & Garf’s retail presence, or buy it directly to give them more of the profit.

So, three cheers for Gunbarrel Liquors for their selection of craft beers and, especially, their collection of very local ones.

Craft Beer at King Soopers

As of yesterday, grocery stores (and any store that used to sell 3.2 beer, which is now gone from Colorado) can sell full-strength beer, including our local King Soopers. Beer can be sold from 8am to midnight.

I dropped by to take a look, as I was curious as to what craft beers they would stock. (There are plenty of non-craft beers.) I spotted New Belgium, Oscar Blues, Odell, Avery, Upslope, and Boulder Beer.

In 2016, according to the Brewers Association, the largest craft breweries in Colorado were, from the largest: New Belgium, Oscar Blues, Odell, Left Hand, Avery, Great Divide (Denver), Ska (Durango), Upslope, Crazy Mountain (Denver/Edwards), and Boulder Beer. So 6 of the 7 in Boulder and Larimer counties are represented; only Left Hand is missing. It’s pretty easy to see how King Soopers decided what to stock.

I’m going to visit Gunbarrel Liquor in a day or so to see if they’ve done anything in response, such as increasing their stock of smaller microbrews, like Finkel & GarfGunbarrel Brewing, or Wibby, all of which sell beer in cans. If they do, that would be a reason to buy your beer there. (Hazel in Boulder sells Finkel & Garf and Wibby.) UPDATE: Gunbarrel Liquor has a very complete selection.

Note that King Soopers in Gunbarrel doesn’t sell wine or hard liquor. Just beer.

 

How much to tip in a restaurant?

With three of the newer restaurants in Gunbarrel providing only limited service (you take a number to your table), I’ve re-thought how much I want to tip. The restaurants I’m thinking of are Sancho’s, Lookout Cafe & Cocktails, and Raglin Market. Generally, I’ve been over-tipping, not because I’m getting great service, but because I haven’t been thinking things through.

It seems that restaurants can be divided into three main categories with regard to service levels:

  • Full service: You’re shown to your seat, a waiter takes your order, it’s brought to you, and the waiter handles the check at the end. Examples: Proto’s, Morning Table, Aperitivo.
  • Limited service: You order and pay at a counter, take a number to your table, and a server brings the order to you. You may have to bus your own table. Examples: Lookout, Raglin, Sancho’s.
  • No service: The staff stays behind the counter. Examples: Snarf’s and Burger King.

I don’t think whether the server earns a tipped minimum wage, which in Colorado is about $3 less than the regular minimum wage, should be a factor,  because:

  • If with tips the server’s hourly pay falls below the regular minimum wage, the employer has to make up the difference.
  • The minimum wage is much less than a living wage, and many people who serve you (trash collector, gas station attendant, Home Depot cashier) make much less than a living wage.
  • You rarely know what anyone is making. Some businesses might pay more than the minimum wage.

So, how much to tip should depend on the level and quality of service, not on your guess as to the server’s income. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • 20% of the pre-tax bill for full service, with more or less if the service is exceptionally good or bad.
  • 10%, more or less, for limited service.
  • zero, and very rarely more, for no service.

At a bar (alcohol or coffee) where I’m sitting at the bar or at a nearby table, I’ll tip 10% if I’m only drinking, and 20% if I’m ordering a meal and can order while sitting down.

Under my new scheme, food trucks get a zero tip, although I would tip if the person in the truck is particularly charismatic. Carry-out also gets a zero tip.

Review: The Morning Table

Here’s my review in one sentence: Gunbarrel now has a great breakfast place! They’re open for lunch, too; hours are 7 AM – 2:30 PM every day.

The Morning Table looks just awful from the outside (see above). For some reason, the windows are just as dirty as they were during construction. But that’s the only negative. It looks sensational on the inside:

 

There’s both a community table (just above) and a counter. And lots of other seating. Unlike the restaurants in Gunbarrel Center, this space was built for a restaurant, so it works much better. (It’s the former site of Gurkhas.)

I wanted to see what the $10 standard American breakfast would be like, so I ordered The Go 2, which is two eggs, meat (ham, bacon. or sausage), bread, and a side. I had scrambled eggs, sausage, a biscuit, and hash browns:

Note the large cup of coffee ($3 extra—too much!) and the Tabasco, already on the table. (I don’t like having to ask for Tabasco and letting my eggs get cold while waiting for it.)

The food was yummy, and perfectly cooked. The service was very attentive and quick. The menu is online.

My companion had the Mediterranean omelette with fruit, which she reported as excellent.

There’s outdoor seating, too, for when the weather gets warmer:

The Morning Table is so good that I would say this about it: I no longer feel the urge to drive to Aunt Alice’s Kitchen in Longmont (18th and Main). If you know Alice’s, you know that this is the highest possible praise.

Review: Raglin Market

Raglin Market is right on the corner of Lookout Rd. and Gunbarrel Center Court, so we’ve been watching it under construction for months, and it finally opened a few weeks ago. It’s a fast-casual, limited-service (you take a number to your table) place, similar in operation, but not in food, to Lookout Cafe & Cocktails, which opened recently across the street.

The two restaurants have a similar interior design, which might be called “high-school cafeteria:” no tablecloths, minimal decoration, chairs that are comfortable for maybe 45 minutes, and an open, airy look. You go to those places to get served quickly and eat the food, not to hang out. They’re not dinner destinations. (I think Lookout Cafe & Cocktails is a little more stylish, but the difference isn’t very important.)

Raglin offers sandwiches, salads (with protein), and a combo (“Market Plate”). The food and drink menus are online. The meals are all between $10 and $13. Local microbrews are $6, and a glass of wine is $8. Happy-hour (2PM – 6PM) beers are only $3, and wine is $6. They also have boxed lunches that you can pick up.

Well, then, Raglin’s success depends entirely on the food, since anybody can set up tables and chairs and serve drinks.

The $13 Market Plate comes with a protein and two sides. I had pulled pork, cauliflower, and House Cured Olives, which were not pitted (see photo). The pork and cauliflower were terrific, but I should have gotten another veggie instead of the olives, as dealing with pits is more work than I like. My dinner partner had the tuna niçoise salad ($13), which she reported as OK, but not great.

The Raglin menu has lots of GF (gluten-free), V (vegan), and VG (vegetarian) choices, if you want those.

I was disappointed to have my food served on a compostable plate. At least it wasn’t paper, but china would have been better. The utensils were metal. The napkin was paper.

My conclusion: Raglin Market is a fine place for lunch and for quick, informal dinners, although they close at 8PM, so don’t be late. The menu looks limited at first glance, but there are plenty of combinations, so it’s really fairly extensive. And the prices are very reasonable. Give them a try—there’s a good chance you’ll find some things you really like.

(Their website needs work: Links that go nowhere and misspellings.)

Raglin Market and The Morning Table now open

They’re the third and fourth new Gunbarrel restaurants in the last few months, joining Lookout Cafe & Cocktails and Rush Bowls.

I’m wondering if Gunbarrel is now over-saturated with restaurants. One could argue that The Morning Table and Sancho’s didn’t add to the number, since they replaced restaurants. But Raglin, Lookout, and Rush Bowls are in new space.

On the other hand, around 550 new apartments were added in the last few years, and I’d guess that their occupants eat out more than the rest of Gunbarrel does. So, maybe all the new restaurants will do OK?

In case you’re wondering, the only new restaurant in the works I know of is the food hall in the Mockingbird development, which is still undergoing City review.

Review: Lookout Cafe & Cocktails

Lookout Cafe & Cocktails

Lookout Cafe & Cocktails has just opened in Gunbarrel Center, the second restaurant there after Proto’s, which it’s right across from. It’s a limited service restaurant: You order and pay at a counter and then take a number to place on your table. They bring the food to your table, although they call your name for coffee. I didn’t have any alcohol, so I don’t know what they do for those drinks; perhaps they just pour your drink when you pay.

UPDATE: I’m told there’s full service for dinner.

For breakfast, which is what we had, they have bagels (shown is an egg, cheese, and bacon bagel), burritos, and pastries. There are sandwiches for lunch, and tapas for dinner. Click here to see the menus. I haven’t been there yet for lunch or dinner.

For dinner, Proto’s is a better bargain, since you can get a medium pizza, enough for two, for a little as $9. But you can’t have pizza all the time, so Lookout is a welcome alternative.

Lookout Cafe & Cocktails

The bagel and burrito we had were pretty good, and not expensive. There are a dozen wine taps, a few beer taps, and full bar. The wine prices seem high to me, but the happy hour (every day from 4 to 6) prices are much lower.

Lookout Cafe & Cocktails

There’s outdoor seating, too.

Lookout Cafe & Cocktails

They’re open Sunday to Thursday from 7am-9pm, and Friday to Saturday until 10. That’s earlier and later than most other places in Gunbarrel.

Questionable Decision by the Gunbarrel Green HOA Board

From the draft minutes of the 18-Sept-2018 Gunbarrel Green HOA Board meeting, publicly posted at gunbarrelgreen.com:

New Business – The HOA would like to hire Melissa Garcia, an attorney with the firm HindmanSanchez, to review and offer changes to our outdated Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. Copies have been sent to her along with the proposed revisions suggested by our Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws Committee. Melissa reported that the Gunbarrel Green HOA is not bound by the CCIOA (Colorado Common Interest Owners Act) as we do not own any common property together, etc.. HindmanSanchez specializes in HOA matters. This firm was chosen after interviewing several candidates.

Motion by Sandi, second by Jenn. Motion passed.

We would like to ask Melissa to attend our annual HOA meeting on October 2.

Motion by Gina, second by Sandi. Motion passed.

This looks to be the fourth recent attempt to change the Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. The first, in Sept. 2017, was a set of revisions sent out for a vote. Criticisms from me and, I assume, others, caused that vote to be canceled. The second was a draft from a committee formed after the Oct. 2017 HOA Annual Meeting, which was sent out in May 2018. More criticisms resulted in a cancellation of the June meeting and July vote that were supposed to follow. We’re just learning now that this secretive committee has come up with another draft, which the general HOA membership hasn’t seen, and now this attorney has been hired to produce draft four.

Note from the Board meeting minutes that the decision to hire this attorney has already been made, with no input from the HOA membership. Perhaps details of the current Bylaws and Articles draft will be revealed at the Annual meeting a week from tomorrow (Oct. 2), and perhaps the hiring of this attorney will be discussed. But neither are on the agenda, so I doubt it, unless enough members force the discussion to take place. At any rate, the decision to hire her has already been made, by the Board, acting alone and in isolation.

PLEASE ATTEND THE ANNUAL MEETING!

Here are the questions I’d like to ask, and will ask if I’m allowed to:

1. What instructions has the attorney been given? That is, is she just supposed to look for bloopers, or might she rewrite the documents from scratch, or something in-between?

2. How much will she be paid? Is there a cap? Could she take maybe $5,000? 10? 20? (The Board has had runaway costs before, such as the $7,000+ spent on a now-discarded website.)

3. What was done about the most egregious new proposal in the second draft (see above), which allowed the Board to assess a fee against any HOA member of any amount for any reason?

4. Why does the committee work in secret? Wouldn’t it be better to share their works-in-progress so that they can get feedback from the voting members?

5. What exactly in the existing Bylaws and Articles needs to be fixed, and why couldn’t we just propose some simple amendments to fix those problems?

My own view of how things ought to be done, which I’ve expressed before, including directly to the Board, is that changes to the Bylaws and Articles should be divided into two groups:

1. Cleanups, clarifications, and wording simplifications.

2. Changes in governance (e.g., new fee, changes to voting on dues).

Items in the group 2 should be discussed and voted on informally by the members (straw poll), so that work to draft language isn’t wasted on something that the membership doesn’t actually want. Otherwise, much time and money will be spent on work that will be discarded if the final vote — 60% of the HOA membership — fails.

Based on recent experience, there’s a pretty good chance that whatever is paid to this attorney, whether it’s $200 or $20,000, will be entirely wasted.

Again, PLEASE ATTEND the Annual Meeting on Oct. 2! Details are at gunbarrelgreen.com.

What’s Going On at Diagonal Crossing

That’s the triangle bordered by the Diagonal, Foothills Parkway, Independence Road, and 47th Street, which is being dug up now:

The site has been considered for years. This is the 5th project to be proposed and the first to be approved by the City. It’s an interesting combination:

  • 85 affordable units
  • 250 market-rate units
  • 20 Naropa faculty-housing units
  • 2 studio lofts
  • office space for two non-profits: Studio Arts and Meals-on-Wheels
  • a non-profit restaurant run by Bridge House

This is what the project will look like:

Note that “DIAGONAL HWY.” as labeled in the picture is not the road you drive on when you take the Diagonal to Boulder. You’re already on Foothills Parkway by the time you get to Diagonal Crossing.

Boulder needs housing, especially affordable housing, and this project provides both, on one of the few big lots still available in Boulder. But, naturally, what Gunbarrel people care about is the traffic impact on them. One indirect impact is that people in 357 units of housing won’t be driving past Gunbarrel to their work in Boulder, which would be the case if they lived in Longmont or Erie.

But more directly, what about the residents of Diagonal Crossing? There’s no direct access to Foothills Parkway (what you’re actually on if you think you’re on the Diagonal going towards Boulder once you pass Jay Road). That is, if you drive the Diagonal to Boulder, nobody from Diagonal Crossing is going to get in your way until you get past Iris Ave., and that’s a small fraction of the traffic you’re in at that point.

If you leave Boulder on Iris Ave. to merge onto the Diagonal, you’ll drive right past Diagonal Crossing, and my guess is that they’ll be a light at Independence or maybe just northeast of it. But this road is extremely underutilized now and can easily handle the new traffic.

(As an aside, it’s amazing to me that people taking Iris Ave. to the Diagonal struggle to merge onto Foothills just before Jay Road, not realizing that there’s a dedicated lane just for them, and that they don’t have to merge until they clear the light at Jay.)

Most people who live at Diagonal Crossing and want to go to Boulder will turn right onto 119 and continue onto Iris Ave., perhaps making a left on 30th St. or 28th St. Some might take 47th St. Some might want to go the other way on the Diagonal, to Gunbarrel or Longmont, but that won’t add to rush-hour traffic, because it’s a reverse commute. That is, northeast in the morning, and southwest in the evening, opposite to the way most traffic goes now.

That’s by car. The property is already very well served by bike paths, and that’s an easy commute to many places in Boulder, such as Google. I’d guess there will be bus service, too.

Anyway, this development is positive for Gunbarrel, if you assume that more housing is needed, which you surely do if you have any children. (Did you plan for them to live in their cars?) With all those new offices in Boulder, any new housing between us and Boulder keeps the density where it belongs, and avoids additional clogging of Gunbarrel roads.

If you want to read about the project in detail, especially the affordable housing part, here’s a PDF.

Restaurant openings… and a closing

First, Blackjack Pizza has closed in Gunbarrel. Plenty of other places in Boulder or Niwot to call to get a pizza delivered or to pick one up, just not as close. Proto’s is still here, of course, and if you want something for home, you can get one of their’s half-baked.

Now for the openings:

  • Up Dog Cafe, replacing Page Two Cafe, and now attached to a yoga studio (“down dog”, get it?).
  • The Morning Table, a breakfast and brunch place, a few doors east of Up Dog (in the space vacated by Gurkhas). Opening this summer. As of November, not yet open.
  • Rush Bowls, on the corner of Spine and Lookout. Looks about to open. Now open.
  • Bittersweet Cafe & Confections, in Gunbarrel Center (now open as Lookout Cafe & Cocktails)
  • Raglin Market, in Gunbarrel Center