With remodeling underway, Oskar Blues Grill & Brew is reopening today from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for curbside pickup service. All proceeds from sales today and Saturday will go to a special fund at the Lyons Emergency & Assistant Fund (LEAF). The Gig Grants Fund for Lyons Artists and Musicians supports local unemployed artists and musicians in need.
Dale Katechis is co-founder of Oskar Blues Brewery and Lyons’ Oskar Blues Grill & Brew, 303 South Main Street. He had his hand in guiding the menu and developing a variety of craft-brewed beers in Lyons. Since 2002, he has operated out of Oskar Blues’ Longmont brewing facility. The company now has locations in other Colorado cities and in other states. The Lyons location includes the barn next door, where the first canning was done.
Katechis started making home-brewed beer in 1989 with a kit, and he admits those first batches were terrible. He grew up in the restaurant business, and says you need to mix in art and science. He brought his mother to Lyons to get her recommendations in starting a Cajun cafe with southern hospitality on “this side of the Big Muddy.” He says that everyone said it was a bad idea, including the bankers.
“Coming from a kid who had a chip on his shoulder…we had to do it,” said Dale.
In April 1997, Dale was home-brewing and talked with loyal restaurant customer Craig Engelhorn, who also home-brewed. They liked the same style beers, and decided to brew a dry Irish-style stout. The name Dale’s Pale Ale was initially just a joke. They joined together to start a brewery in the basement, and sold the beer at the restaurant in 1999. Engelhorn, now head distiller at Spirit Hound Distillers, was responsible for the first four years of Oskar Blues’ brewing.
On April 25, Oskar’s celebrated its 23rd anniversary with a Zoom birthday party. They asked patrons to post memories on their Facebook page. In mid-March, some of the bands booked to play Oskar Blues started canceling, and regulations being put in place to contain the COVID-19 virus in restaurants were changing rapidly. The restaurant briefly offered curbside pickup service in March, but found it cost prohibitive, and decided to spend time “getting Oskar Blues beautiful again” per Katechis.
“We are actively creating plans to ensure cleanliness and safety during this process, and hope to open (the building) at the end of May,” he said.
The curbside pickup menu will be posted online today. Patrons can order and pay online. All proceeds from Friday and Saturday will go to the Gig Grant Fund. Starting Sunday, Oskar Blues will be open seven days a week, and the curbside hours may be adjusted during May as business dictates.
“In a small town, you get instant feedback. We built a business relying on the community giving us feedback. It was this community that built our company, and that is really what lead us to the philanthropy…to give back. And right now it is more present than ever,” said Katechis.
Oskar’s started CAN’d Aid as an immediate response to the devastating flooding in Lyons, as well as Longmont, in September 2013. It raised $60,000 in the first year after the flood. It continues to grow in size and expand its mission to a wider audience. To date, CAN’d Aid has raised more than $3.4 million to support its “do-goodery” efforts. Their main fundraiser is the annual Burning Can Festival at the Lyons Outdoor Games.
By supporting the Gig Grants Fund, Oskar Blues is recognizing the need to support musicians who are suddenly without any gigs. Laura Levy partnered with LEAF to create the fund for Lyons artists and musicians. Go to www.festygonuts.com to make a donation and help them meet their goal of $25,000. All funds raised go directly to those in the greatest need, having exhausted other channels for support to make up for their significant income losses.