by Rick Langenberg:
The wandering Blue Moose has found a new home in Green Mountain Falls in a historic bar and building that features a colorful 100-year legacy, not to mention a few bullet holes and a slew of stories
And local residents have enjoyed the new ownership reign, in a place that has resembled a GMF version of the “Cheers” television series, without the local controversies and squabbling that occurs at GMF town hall meetings.
“It has been a success in progress,” said Karla Penner, the personable owner and proprietor of The Blue Moose Tavern, who sports years of experience in managing bars/restaurants in the Midwest, and even had extensive stints as a country singer in Nashville and Branson, Missouri. “I am very pleased. The locals have been very supportive,” added Penner, who is nearing the first-year anniversary of owning and managing a bar that has become a key social hub of Green Mountain Falls for decades. Virtually every local resident has his own story of this gathering spot, which began ironically as boat shop, known over the years as the Pine Gables, Silver Tongue Devil Saloon and now The Blue Moose Tavern.
Under its latest revival, the Blue Moose has gained a niche as a local-friendly spot, and one of the prime spots to witness Denver Broncos’ games and those of just about any NFL team. Just don’t root against the Kansas City Chiefs, Karla’s favorite home team, except for when they square off against Peyton Manning and company.
“I wanted to give the bar back to the community,” said Penner, in outlining her main goal in running the establishment. “This has been a staple of the community for 100 years. It just has so much character. It brings more vibrancy to the community.”
Penner said she wanted to take advantage of the many facility changes done by former owner Scott Hunt, with the patio and new bar layout, but make the Blue Moose more user and local-friendly than it had been in the past. “I wanted to make this almost like a Cheers’ situation and have a very friendly upbeat atmosphere. We want to treat you like you are are a guest in our home. The bar had gotten the reputation that if you are a local, you weren’t welcome. I really wanted to change that perception.”
But at first the Blue Moose owner admitted having a few doubts. When viewing the vacant building last year at this time, Penner discovered an establishment in deteriorating physical and financial condition, a kitchen in shambles and a pool table marred by bullet holes and other disturbing remnants.
“It has been a bumpy road,” quipped the new owner, in analyzing the past of the town’s historic bar. “My attorney tried to talk me out of it, but I just had a good feeling about this place,” she related.
And when she first inspected the establishment on a blistering cold day in the Ute Pass, Penner envisioned the setting as a great place for a moose to wander across the community, cross the street and check out the bar. This served as the impetus behind the name, a subject she admits receiving many inquiries about. “I probably get more questions about the name than anything” quipped Penner.
But the Blue Moose tradition is now part of Green Mountain Falls, maybe not quite in the same stature as the Big Foot legend, but give it a couple of years.
Besides having a friendly atmosphere, courtesy of a new staff Penner hired when she took over, the Blue Moose features special happenings on most nights, including Tasty Tuesday, Fiesta Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday, Men and Ladies’ Nights, Karaoke and Live Music and Game Day.
Recently, the Blue Moose has gained a niche as a prime spot for viewing the Broncos with its assortment of televisions and NFL Direct TV package, allowing patrons to see virtually every NFL game on Sunday. Regular football pools and drink and food specials are also available.
Live music is still a revered tradition at the tavern. But according to Penner, the main focus has been on showcasing local acts from the Pikes Peak area. As a former singer, she realizes the importance of giving local musicians a helping hand. Karaoke nights also have become extremely popular, with some pretty impressive singers.
In addition, the Blue Moose owner says that both she and her fellow staff are good listeners who are willing to make changes, based on customer input.
Plus, the Blue Moose features an enticing and extremely affordable food lineup with a wide assortment of nearly 10 pizza selections, sandwiches, appetizers and specials during sporting events.
And the tavern, similar to its past reputations, is still a popular destination spot for hikers, outdoor buffs and visitors from Colorado Springs and other Colorado locales during the summer and fall. According to Penner, the tavern has even been dubbed the name , “Tiki Bar of the Rockies,” due to what some out-of-town patrons view as a Caribbean feel. “People come up here from out-of-town and really have a good time. They think they are going to be here for a little bit and end up staying for four hours.”
For more information about The Blue Moose Tavern, call 418-3384.