Quirky combinations are unique attractions for area businesses

Cartography and cavities, scaredy-cats and hot dogs among unusual options

Posted 10/8/18

The Denver metro area has it all — diverse entertainment in spectacular venues; vast shopping options from big box retail to small, family-owned businesses; and a variety of dining establishments. …

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Quirky combinations are unique attractions for area businesses

Cartography and cavities, scaredy-cats and hot dogs among unusual options


The Denver metro area has it all — diverse entertainment in spectacular venues; vast shopping options from big box retail to small, family-owned businesses; and a variety of dining establishments.

But some local businesses go above and beyond, either through partnerships or collaborative work with others, to offer a unique experience all of their own. Here are some of the odder combinations that can be found.

Lights Out! and Harley’s: A Hot Dog Revolution, downtown Littleton

Justin Goodchild, 34, has always had an interest in horror-themed movies and tales.

“I’m that kid who was watching Freddy Krueger at 8 years old,” he said. “Halloweens at our house are always the event of the year.”

Today, he took that passion and turned it into a business. He and his wife, Pamela, opened Lights Out! Escape Rooms and Social Lounge in Littleton in April.

“It started out as a Halloween concept at our house,” Goodchild said of the years he would set up a private horror-themed escape room in the garage for local residents and neighbors. “And it morphed into this. A lot of the props are from our family home.”

Although all are horror-themed, the emphasis is not on jump-scares, Goodchild said.

“This is not a haunted house,” he said. “We want your focus on the puzzles, rather than the scare factor.”

Difficulty level in the individual rooms range in from five to eight and each room plays differently.

The social lounge, called The Sanctuary, is open to the public. Although it is a place to gather before or after doing an escape room, there is no requirement to do an escape room to visit the social lounge. The Sanctuary offers adult beverages, entertainment such as chess and board games — “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead” Risk games, for example — in addition to free horror movie nights each Wednesday.

For food, Goodchild partners with Romano’s Italian Restaurant and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit for large-order catering. The business also promotes the eatery right next door, Harley’s: A Hot Dog Revolution.

Harley’s is a well-known, reputable business that has been in operation for 5 1/2 years, said owner Ed Ginsburg.

It’s a good arrangement, and the escape rooms are a blast, Ginsburg added.

“They provide a lot of fun,” he said, “and we provide the good food.”

Canyon Point and Wander and Wonder World Maps, Golden

Dr. Amy Shearer’s patients at Canyon Point Orthodontics and Dr. Paul Madlock’s patients at Canyon Point Implant and Oral Surgery were curious why all the walls in the large building were blank.

“It was honestly because we couldn’t find the right fit for our space,” Shearer said, adding she didn’t want to put up generic artwork purchased from a chain retail store. “We have these amazing spaces and were searching for the right artist.”

Shearer and Madlock, husband and wife, opened their separate practices in the same building in October 2010. About a year ago, they met Golden artist Charlotte Bassin and a new partnership was formed — on Sept. 29, an opening celebration for the art gallery at Canyon Point took place.

Last year, Bassin left her job as a designer and photographer with the Denver Zoo to pursue becoming a professional artist and start her own business, Wander and Wonder World Maps.

There are about 30 pieces of Bassin’s world maps on display at Canyon Point. All of it — both original and prints — is for sale. Bassin also takes commissions for for custom jobs.

The art gallery is open to the public during regular business hours, but to help protect patient privacy, people who want to visit the art gallery must call Canyon Point to arrange a guided tour.

“These business relationships fuel the economy,” Shearer said. “If this helps (Bassin) live her dream as a professional artist, I think that’s an incredible thing we did for someone in our community.”

Bassin is happy to have her art displayed in a non-traditional art gallery, she said, because it helps expose people to fine art that they might not otherwise see.

“They might not be art lovers, or know that they’re art lovers, because they don’t visit art galleries,” Bassin said. “My hope is that when people see them, they reminisce about places they’ve been or dream of places they have yet to go.”

Lube & Latte, Lakewood/Wheat Ridge

It can be unpleasant sitting, waiting for your car to be serviced with a stale or instant coffee in hand, flavored only with powdered creamer.

“We’re creating a comfortable, clean environment,” said Lube & Latte owner Dustin Olde. “It makes the time go faster if you have something delicious to drink or snack on while you’re waiting.”

Lube & Latte opened in 2007. Olde partners with Novo Coffee, a family-owned and operated business in Denver, for the coffee it serves and Sugar Bakeshop, also a small business in Denver, for the pastry selection.

The auto mechanics are ASE certified and can work on all vehicle makes and models. Auto services include everything from scheduled maintenance, unexpected repairs, diagnostics and lube and oil changes.

The venue is small, but offers a clean restroom, free Wi-Fi, couch seating and a high-top bar area for those who would like to bring a laptop computer. In addition, the décor is not what you would normally find at a mechanic shop, Olde said — there are no windshield wiper displays or poster-sized tire ads.

“All that helps make it more welcoming,” he added.

Providing coffee at an auto repair shop is not a new concept, Olde said.

But, “at many shops, you’re served a product you can get anywhere,” Olde said. “Novo Coffee and Sugar Bakeshop pastries are unique and better quality.”

It’s good to be able to partner with other small, local businesses where you can work directly with the owner, he added.

“They are as committed to your success as you are to theirs,” Olde said.

Olde worked in a lot of coffee shops after college, he said, and he always enjoyed the aromas of fresh coffee and the friendly, relaxed environment.

“To me, it was just a natural update to the standard auto repair shop,” Olde said. “People are friendlier over a cup of coffee.”

Game Train, Highlands Ranch

When Jo Ellen Christian of Centennial was a young girl, she would travel with her grandmother by train. During the trip, her grandmother would always ask the other passengers to play games, usually card games, with them.

And more often than not, they did, Christian said.

“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “We got to get to know people from all over the country.”

Today, she and her husband Kevin have taken that nostalgia and will be opening Game Train in December. Dubbed “a board-game getaway” by the Christians, the venue will be a restaurant, simulated train and board-game establishment.

“Our goal is to be a social place where people can have fun and interact face-to-face,” Christian said. “I enjoy being around people and watching them have fun.”

The establishment is currently under construction. The end result will offer patrons unlimited play of hundreds of board games for a $5 library fee and train simulators that will provide the rumble and sounds of riding in a real train car.

Décor will resemble a Victorian train station and seating will be strategically placed so people can enjoy private game play with their group.

Those who do not wish to play games are welcome to visit for dining only, Christian said.

“We have a great chef who inspired our menu,” she added.

The Christians are working with Erie’s chef Robert Corey, a renowned chef who has taught at The Art Institute of Colorado and at Johnson & Wales University. In his career, he has led or been on the opening team for about 25 restaurants across the U.S. and in Mexico. In Colorado, Corey has cooked for guests of the RedRum Mystery Dinner at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, in addition to opening his own restaurant, Seasoned — An American Bistro, in June last year.

Game Train is fashioned after the “bygone times of parlor games, inventions and travel,” its website states.

“We want to be a destination where people can relax and feel like they’re getting away from their everyday routine,” she said.

Lights Out!, Harley's hot dogs, Littleton, Canyon Point, Wander and Wonder World Maps, Lube & Latte, Game Train


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