On November 18, Denver–based Punch Bowl Social, a leader in the “eat-ertainment” movement, will open its tenth location in the Stapleton air traffic control tower building, former home of the Stapleton International Airport that closed in 1995. While the rest of the airport structures were demolished long ago, the control tower has stood vacant for more than 20 years.
Punch Bowl Social’s preservation and adaptive re-use project has been a multi-year undertaking. The building was structurally sound but the interior had degraded substantially over the past two decades, requiring comprehensive infrastructure improvements.
The design of the 32,000-square-foot project honors the legacy of the airport and preserves many elements of the historic tower, including the precast panels that originally adorned the exterior of the building. The intensive effort required removing and preserving the panels to accommodate the new design and then setting them back on the building. The project also incorporates a “golden age of flight” aesthetic within the interior design.
Dozens of ideas for transforming the tower were presented over the years, including demolition. Finally, Denver City Councilman Chris Herndon, who represents the Stapleton neighborhood, approached Robert Thompson, Punch Bowl Social founder and CEO, about redeveloping the tower.
“It has been an incredible effort, and more importantly an honor, to preserve the former control tower,” Thompson says. “We are intentional about seeking locations that have historic roots but need a new purpose. We’ve done it at our original location on Broadway in Denver and have projects in San Diego and Brooklyn that will also adapt historic properties for re-use as Punch Bowl Socials.”
Punch Bowl Social is an award-winning eat-ertainment business that combines social gaming with a primary focus on culinary and craft beverage operations. Punch Bowl Social Stapleton will bring a curated menu created by the company’s culinary partner, James Beard Award-winning chef, restaurateur, author, and “Top Chef” judge, Hugh Acheson. Acheson leads the ongoing culinary direction of the growing restaurant concept, further strengthening Punch Bowl Social’s commitment to a diner-inspired scratch kitchen.
Punch Bowl Social Stapleton will feature six bowling lanes, bonzini, darts, two private karaoke rooms, a photo booth, shuffle board, giant Scrabble, a custom-built 360-degree bar, and a wide variety of indoor and outdoor lounging and gathering spots. The location will also be home to the company’s first expansive outdoor space with two regulation-size bocce courts, ping-pong, corn hole, giant Jenga, an AstroTurf-lined “pool,” stadium seating, a gazebo, and a beer garden.
Punch Bowl Social worked with Denver–based OZ Architecture on the architecture and design of the airport tower.