Welcoming customers to the King’s Chef’s “Purple Castle”.
(Colorado Springs) – On the morning of Monday, September 11, many restaurants and stores in downtown Colorado Springs found themselves without power. This came after one of the transformers suffered an equipment malfunction in the early morning hours, leading to an underground fire.
Tuesday marked the second day of many businesses having to close their doors to customers. King’s Chef Diner was able to operate out of its 1957 location, known to many as the “Purple Castle.”
“So, first thing in the morning, we refrigerated everything and preserved it so we had an idea of what was going on,” said King’s Chef Diner owner Gary Geiser. “Then we’re lucky enough to have our own refrigerated truck, so we were able to get it from the ranch that we had in the pueblo area…they came, and we were able to get our hard goods and everything from that area and into our refrigerated truck.
Having the second location ensures business continuity at King’s Chef Diner, just in a smaller space.
“In the meantime, we can operate our castle site, our historic castle, located at 110 East Castillo, and have it open during this time,” Geiser said. “So, we got Sue, one of our original cast members. We have Brandon Culinary Company, so we’re able to keep some employees on, we’re able to keep that facility going and still provide some food to the community during this operational error.”
Springs Utilities shared an update with FOX21, which can also be found online. Crews were able to restore power to 150 of the 280 properties, and she said crews are continuing to work in that area.
There are many restaurants affected by this outage in this special area. Geezer shared what he saw other companies doing.
“Well, hopefully there’s insurance they can rely on to mitigate that. We’d rather not rely on insurance, if possible,” Geiser said. “But I’ve seen other food trailers out there that have refrigeration units that people have rented on the spot. I think I’ve seen other people pulling produce out of coolers early in the morning. I think everyone has been very proactive about food safety and making sure they are doing the right thing for the neighborhood.
In the midst of a power outage, the sizzle of burgers and upbeat ’80s tunes can be heard outside the Purple Castle.
“We have a backup site,” Geiser said. “We’re honored to have that and honored that our customers still find us no matter where we are, so we’re very fortunate (and) able to have it.”
Inside the restaurant was a beloved long-time employee, Sue Browning, who could share detailed memories of the location’s 1956 history.
“I started here before we had the second location, and I helped open the Bijou location that day, and then I took a hiatus, and did other things, and after that it was always my favorite job, so I came back,” Browning said. .
Sue cares about the customers, she knows what regular customers ask for and makes sure they are happy in heart and belly.
“There are people I used to take care of when they were little kids, and now they come with their kids,” Browning said. “We have a lot of repeat customers, people have been coming to us for years. We have people who have been coming to us for 20 or 30 years, so…it’s very much like a family and we really enjoy ourselves.”
For one customer, Tim McLean, the restaurant has been a go-to place for about 15 years. He expressed his happiness at returning to the original location on Tuesday morning.
“Obviously the biggest thing is the staff, they’re very friendly and, yeah, it’s a good place to come and have lunch,” McLean said.
Despite some challenges caused by power outages, this special place is a gem in a southern Colorado community.
“We have a lot of great history not only with customers, but also with great employees,” Geiser said. “We’ve had employees meet each other at the facility and then get married and start families. It’s just a lot of stories, a lot of history, a lot of camaraderie, you know? And as this city grows a little bit, those kinds of things get lost easily and so we’re honored to be able to maintain it.
If the Bijou location remains without power tomorrow, the Purple Castle will be open serving up their signature dishes and welcoming smiles.