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Bistro by day, boisterous bar by night? The Railspur hopes city sides its way for dynamic business concept

From left, Seth Stefanik, Chad Willett and Juan Coronado stand inside the West Edge Collective building Thursday at 707 W. Lincolnway in Cheyenne. The three are pairing together to attempt to transform the building into The Railspur, a coffee bistro and bar hybrid that hinges on the Cheyenne City Council granting them a liquor license. (Briar Napier/Cap City News)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Sometimes, the best ideas come up by pure happenstance.

The West Edge Collective building on 707 W. Lincolnway wasn’t originally built in 2018 for the idea of a vibrant retail business. But over the years, as more and more people brought up the possibility when they entered the same-named marketing agency’s home base, the thought started sounding better and better.

And as of January 28, when West Edge Collective teamed up with Micro Pop-Up Concepts to submit a liquor license application to the city of Cheyenne, the first steps toward making the dream a reality were officially put in motion.

If approved by the Cheyenne City Council to sell liquor by March, the West Edge Collective building will begin a transformation into The Railspur by the end of 2022 — a hybrid dual setup of a coffee bistro during the day and a vibrant bar at night with package liquor, outdoor food trucks and an eventual exterior renovation to boot.

It’s an ambitious project for Cheyenne, but also one that’s falling in line with the city’s hopes to revitalize much of the West Edge area — through the likes of the area-wide plan and the Reed Avenue Rail Corridor — into a unique attraction for residents and tourists alike. Through The Railspur, the project’s leaders think the concept can be the heart of the development process.

“We get traffic weekly coming in [saying], ‘What is this place? Oh, wouldn’t it be a cool coffee shop?’ or ‘Wouldn’t it be a cool bar?'” West Edge Collective Managing Director Chad Willett, one of the main drivers of the the Railspur project, said. “Over the years, it’s really stuck, and we’re like, ‘Hell yeah, it would be.’ We like drinking coffee here, we like drinking beer here, we like drinking booze. But wouldn’t this be a cool place to share?”

A rendering of the West Edge Collective building’s planned expansion to accommodate The Railspur, which its leaders hope is fully completed by late 2023 pending the Cheyenne City Council awarding it a liquor license. (Courtesy of West Edge Collective)

The West Edge Collective building itself is currently between 5,500 and 6,000 total square feet, according to Willett, and takes much influence from Cheyenne’s railroading history, with repurposed shipping containers and flooring from early-1900s boxcars a main feature of the design. There’s no coincidence that that industry is also where The Railspur’s name came to be.

If the license is approved, Willett said that about 1,500 square feet will be reserved for the bar and dispensing areas, with much of the rest set aside for an indoor stage area, private rooms and the package liquor department, among other features. The second floor of the building would morph to the setting; it could be used as VIP or rentable event space at night but also an office or dining space throughout the day, Willett noted.

If things go to plan, Phase 1 renovations to the interior — such as additional bathrooms and cold storage — will be completed and ready to roll by the end of the year. Phase 2 renovations (which would be finished by the end of 2023) would be targeted toward exterior changes, such as increased parking and an “outdoor entertainment space” per Willett that could help make The Railspur a hotspot for both indoor and outdoor events.

“We feel us doing these things, along with additional priorities that are coming up, really kind of tie in together,” Willett said. “Our kind of kickoff, our catalyst, is the indoor, [then] let’s get the outdoor done right thereafter, so the next year, we can start doing that, and then this whole area starts to really move pretty quick.”

Willett isn’t doing this alone. Teaming up with him are Juan Coronado and Seth Stefanik, the two co-founders of Micro Pop-Up Concepts — a Cheyenne-based food and beverage architect that has the Los Conejos food truck in town under its umbrella — who were essential parts of launching and maintaining The Metropolitan downtown.

A rendering of what would be the bar area at The Railspur, should the concept’s leaders be awarded a liquor license from the Cheyenne City Council to transform the current West Edge Collective building into a bistro/bar establishment. (Courtesy of West Edge Collective)

The duo has a wide range of experience working on designing and growing similar restaurant concepts across America, but wanted to combine those influences into a new approach that also feels local and natural to Cheyenne. Once Willett got on board as well, work began on putting together the pieces to try and make it happen.

“It’s bringing what we’ve seen everywhere else here, where we decided to live and where we love living,” Coronado said. “We see the potential of being part of [Cheyenne’s growth], which is very important to me. Other places, you could have an opinion of what you think they could’ve done or what could’ve been different. But here in Cheyenne, you can actually have some direction and have some big impact on what’s happening and how it happens, and help shape it.”

Willett said he doesn’t know a specific date on the city council meeting where it’ll decide where to award the liquor license, but he’s hoping to hear of a decision by the end of February. If the council votes “no” on giving The Railspur a license, the building will remain mainly the same as how it is now, as a home for the marketing agency, he said.

Stefanik said that the team held a meet and greet with city council members where renderings of the The Railspur were shared, hoping to improve the concept’s status as being what he called the “underdog” compared to other businesses competing for the license.

Community support is all that The Railspur’s current team is asking for now. In return, it hopes it can give back through good amenities and good times.

“These next couple weeks is a really critical time for the city council to make their decisions,” Willett said. “We have friends and colleagues and family who are going after the liquor license. It sucks to fight in the street over this and have to say that ours is the best, but with that, to the victor goes the spoils. We want to provide the best we can, but we also want to be something that doesn’t suck. One of our biggest things is suck less today than we did yesterday. This will be the definition of that.”