Review: Element Bistro

As far as I know, there are only two restaurants in Gunbarrel on their own pad: Element Bistro and Burger King. I’ve never been to Burger King and probably never will go there, so I don’t think I’ll ever review it. Element Bistro I have been to maybe four times.

“Bistro” is correct: The menu is limited, although some of the items are interesting. The food is OK, and I doubt that anyone goes there for the food. Can’t speak about the wine list, but the beer list is above average for Gunbarrel, with a bunch of local draft beers. (With five breweries in Gunbarrel, you wouldn’t go to Element Bistro for the beer.)

The downstairs is a large, very plain room, and not particularly attractive. But, if you’re having dinner with friends and your attention is on them, it probably doesn’t matter.

The roof is much, much better. It overlooks the commercial buildings west of 63rd St., the Diagonal highway, and the railroad tracks, but there’s a great view of the mountains in the distance. And it’s fun when a train comes by.

There’s a bar on the roof, and a bunch of tables, some of which are under cover. (The cover wasn’t there when the place first opened; we got rained on and had to move downstairs.)

We went there once with friends to hear Girls on Top, a popular cover band that we also heard in Niwot at Rock & Rails (which is terrific). There was a $10 per person charge (not a minimum, but a charge), which might have been why the crowd was thin. It was a little spooky to listen to such a high-powered group with only about 15 or 20 other people.

It seems like Element Bistro hasn’t yet found its formula. Only the roof really works, and I don’t think they’re booking the right musical groups, although that opinion is based on only one data point. (The Laughing Goat in Boulder books really interesting groups, and you just tip.)

I’m sure we’ll go back, but only in weather good enough so we can sit on the roof deck. I can’t say whether we’d pay $10 per person for music. Maybe if we’re in the mood. As far as I know, there’s very little live music in Gunbarrel anywhere else.

The Boulder Rural Fire Rescue merger (Part Zero)

Our local fire department, in the fairly new fire house on Lookout Rd., is in talks with the City of Boulder about merging itself into the City fire department. The Gunbarrel Green (where I am) HOA is alarmed (!) and recently sent this in an email:

The HOA Board wants to let you know there has been an addition to the October 3 agenda. Guest speaker Donna George will speak on the proposed City of Boulder fire service contract with Boulder Rural Fire Dept. Boulder Rural serves our neighborhood. If this merger takes place, our neighborhood will need to pay the City of Boulder for fire/rescue services. In addition, this merger could open the door to a forcible annexation of Gunbarrel subdivisions to the City of Boulder. This issue is very important to our neighborhood and it is the hope of the HOA Board that you will attend to learn the impact such a contract will have on the residents of Gunbarrel Green.

I heard all of Donna’s talk at the meeting, but it was so complicated that I was unable to follow the issues. I do remember this much, some from Donna and some from other people:

  • Somebody in the HOA thinks it opens the door to forced annexation. When I figure out how, I’ll post something.
  • Employed fire fighters might lose their jobs.
  • A firefighter who lives on Carter Trail once came to a house in Gunbarrel Green in 2 minutes to save a child’s life. (The implication is that this could no longer happen if the merger went through.)
  • There is a BRFR budget shortfall of $150,000 to $500,000. (I may not have remembered the numbers, and the person who told us about them wasn’t really sure anyway.) If true, this might be the rationale for the merger.

I’m a long way from writing anything here that tries to sort this out, which is why I call this Post Zero. More posts will follow.

Unfortunately, the BRFR website is one of many non-profit websites I’ve looked at recently (including the Gunbarrel Green site) that fails to post minutes of its Board meetings. The last minutes there are from June, but there have been three meetings since, and surely some of them discussed this proposed merger.

I have so far come up with two interesting facts that I think are true:

  • This merger seems to be supported by BRFR management, if not by the firefighters.
  • According to the BRFR website, residents in the district pay about $1000 per year in taxes to the BRFR for a house valued at $800,000, which is probably typical, maybe even low, for Gunbarrel Green. So, the idea that “our neighborhood will need to pay” isn’t anything new, since we’re already paying. What somebody needs to explain is how much we would be paying after the merger.

More to follow…