May 21—CHEYENNE — The owners of Blue Raven Brewery are in crunch time.
Six days ago, Danielmark's Brewing Co., a Cheyenne landmark, was alive and kicking. Now, the historic Corson house is virtually gutted, with chairs stacked in the bar room, walls half-painted sky blue, and structural features ripped out or busted down in favor of a renewed atmosphere.
"The style of the house was mostly mentioned to us as a complaint," co-owner Richard Hart said while walking through the construction. "Everyone said they felt like they were in their aunt's house. Some people liked it. That's why I became a regular here.
"We're just going a little more traditional. Microbreweries tend to be more rustic these days."
On Thursday, the new owners are multitasking on several construction jobs around their new business. Kevin Tighe, who served as a bartender at Danielmark's prior to going in on Blue Raven, is taking boards to a table saw out front.
He steps back in and climbs a step ladder to measure a spot above the bar. The night before, the group made a decision to knock out a stain glass window and irksome partition to create a more open concept.
Out of sight behind the bar, Ryan Willson is measuring the baseboards and putting paneling plans together with Hart, who retired after 20 years in the Air Force.
Some of the walls will be stripped and decorated with accent brick. Paneling around the base of the bar will be made up of rusted sheet metal. These are small changes, but by the end of the process, the inside of Blue Raven should look like a completely different space.
The back patio, however, looks about the same, with new furniture going in and old chairs being disassembled and repainted by volunteers. The exterior of the house is largely staying the same. By the time plans are completed for Blue Raven Brewery, it's going to be a unique location for summer gatherings.
Changes to the space
One thing stands out when looking at the plans for Blue Raven Brewery — there's a lot of space to work with that Danielmark's wasn't using. Hart walks around the side of the house via a driveway currently used as employee parking, and explains how eventually all of this will be transformed into picnic table seating and an area to play outdoor games, like corn hole.
Wrapping around the front of the building, where a small lawn and Danielmark's sign still hangs, will also be removed for the most extensive renovation to come.
Where customers typically enter the front of the house, there are plans to install a raised wooden deck with string lights and standing room for people to gather and drink. The side door, mostly used by employees, will be another entrance location that will provide a more accessible point to get in line at the bar.
The idea is to redirect the flow of the entire brewery.
"I want to redirect it because people are coming in and sometimes they hit the line immediately, especially on a real busy day," Hart said.
This is another place where Hart and company see opportunity.
Another major renovation comes with the rear alley space. There is a wooden fence with a back door behind Danielmark's that is obscured by a dumpster. It swings open and sets anyone entering right next to the stage in the backyard patio.
Later this year, they plan to have murals painted around the alley and the main sign for Blue Raven Brewery hanging above the back entrance. Not only will this redirect the flow of the bar, it will be a more noticeable attraction for drivers on Warren Avenue on their way into the city.
"Right now, I think about the Fort Collins, Colorado, alleys," Hart said. "I think, from a tourist perspective, it's probably gonna be the primary entrance. We're going to be experimenting this summer to see how it works out."
While the bar isn't quite ready to host events, the team has ideas. On June 25, they're partnering with Beach Please Drink Co. to hold a fundraiser for the Cheyenne Animal Shelter. Alf's Pub will set up a tent and serve liquor in the parking lot, food trucks will park near the back alley, and a live band will play the patio.
Only some of these tasks have to be completed by Tuesday. The team working right now includes Hart, Tighe and Wilson, along with help from volunteers that had been loyal patrons to Danielmark's for several years.
Together, the group has been working into the late hours of the night, sometimes pausing to drink.
Other future renovations include open-air seating with a view to the patio, updated bathrooms, an extension of the bar and new televisions.
Management plans to keep one thing the same — the beer.
Blue Raven is adopting many of the recipes from Danielmark's, the only difference being the names of the beer. There will also be more of it, as the team is adding two taps to the bar, meaning there will be eight static beers and two rotating specials.
Though they're operating in a tight window, there's no worry among the owners that the business will miss its soft opening come Tuesday.
Will Carpenter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's Arts and Entertainment/Features Reporter. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 307-633-3135. Follow him on Twitter @will_carp_.