Punch Bowl Social Opens In Former Air Traffic Control Tower
Denver-based Punch Bowl Social has opened its 10th location in the old Stapleton air traffic control tower building — the last of the airport structures still standing since the property was redeveloped as a master planned community.
The tower has stood vacant since the airport relocated more than 20 years ago. The building was structurally sound, but the interior had degraded substantially over the past two decades, requiring comprehensive infrastructure improvements. The design of the 32K SF restaurant and entertainment venue 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 project was born when Denver City Councilman Chris Herndon contacted Punch Bowl Social founder and CEO Robert Thompson about redeveloping the historic tower three years ago.
“We embraced the project because we understood its significance to Colorado,” Thompson said. “The organic migration of families [to the original location] on the weekends is what made us think this is a good location for us.”
Punch Bowl Social Stapleton has six bowling lanes, bonzini, darts, two private karaoke rooms, a photo booth and a variety of indoor and outdoor lounging and gathering spots, including two outdoor bars and a beer garden.
There is also the “astropool,” a fake swimming pool lined with blue AstroTurf surrounded by lounge chairs. There are two regulation-size bocce courts, ping-pong, corn hole and giant Jenga.
Oz Architecture designed the restaurant around the 10-story tower, and visitors cannot actually go up to the top. The top of the tower is only 400 SF, and it would have been too expensive to bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Thompson said. Punch Bowl Social’s corporate headquarters is on the third floor of the building.
“It has been an incredible effort, and more importantly an honor, to preserve the former control tower,” Thompson said. “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 reuse as Punch Bowl Socials.”