Ivywild School was built in 1916 in the southwest part of Colorado Springs and was an elementary school for nearly a century, closing its doors in 2009. But it didn’t sit empty for long. Joe Coleman, owner of the Blue Star restaurant, and Mike Bristol, owner of Bristol Brewing Co., had their eyes on the statuesque building less than a block away from their businesses. With local architect Jim Fennell, they purchased, remodeled and reopened the school in 2012 as a commercial and community center. Today, Ivywild School is home to Bristol’s brewing business and brewpub, the Principal’s Office coffee shop and bar, the Teacher’s Lounge next door, the Old School Bakery, Meat Locker Delicatessen, and Hunt or Gather food shop. Fennell also has his office here, and there are plans for more innovations in the future.
What makes it great:
The Principal’s Office is one of the innovative new businesses in the restored Ivywild School. “Libations for the Troubled” carries on the theme here. Clever cocktails are arranged under the titles of Expulsion, Suspension, Detention and Hotties (Catholic School Girl is rum, pineapple, white grape, sparkling wine and orange bitters). Coffee brewing methods include espresso, pour-over, cold brew and siphon, and for non-coffee drinkers, there are teas, house-made ginger beer, hot chocolate and spritzers. At the Principal’s Office, Happy Hour is “Detention Hour,” with deals Monday through Friday. Hungry? Add a pastry or baguette from the Old School Bakery (in the same complex). Old School also has a quirky menu of specialty breads – chocolate sourdough boule, cranberry walnut sourdough and marble rye are stars here. The Meat Locker has a deli menu with sandwiches (think deli meats with smoked cheeses and add-ons such as horseradish sauce), and has house-made sausages and cured meats.
Who will love it:
Ivywild School will make you nostalgic from the moment you walk up the stairs to the entrance. The hardwood floors, high ceilings and even restrooms labeled “boys” and “girls” are like a time machine back to a time when schools were built on this grand scale. Original chalkboards and murals have been preserved, and original brick has been exposed on interior walls. Once inside the school, you can catch a coffee or a cocktail; listen to live music, shop for meats and produce, and check out the newest brews from Bristol, a brewery started in 1994. The brewery’s Scottish ale, Laughing Lab, has been a local favorite for decades; Red Rocket pale ale and Beehive honey wheat beer are among the longest-running favorites. The seasonal release of Venetucci Pumpkin Ale in the fall is a much-anticipated event that draws crowds.
Directions, fees and regulations:
To get to Ivywild School from downtown, take Nevada Avenue south to Brookside Street. Turn right, then left onto S. Cascade Avenue. The school is at 1604 S. Cascade Ave. Each establishment has different hours; check the website for up-to-date info.
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