With the help of search and rescue, both figuratively and literally speaking, Glenwood Springs’ Native Son has risen again.
The tapas bar, owned by Glenwood native Ricky Rodriguez, originally opened its doors in April. But when the local business lost its liquor license earlier this summer over a code violation that resulted in an extended closure, staying afloat proved challenging.
“We had to hustle into doing all kinds of different [catering] events from Eagle to, of course, the Roaring Fork Valley, and it was really good because it just showed the people that stayed with me how resilient they were and how resilient we became together to keep the brand alive,” Rodriguez said.
Alive and healthy, like the establishment’s Kombucha on tap, Native Son has reopened with the help of friend and search and rescue pilot Jack Montou.
The pilot, who flies for Classic Air Medical, and Rodriguez first crossed paths at a local gym where the two developed a close friendship. However, little did they know their coordinates would eventually land them as business partners.
“I’ve been flying for about 12 years,” Montou said. “I went to flight school, all civilian trained, and after that my dream was to do search and rescue work, and I think the most challenging terrain in the United States has to be right here in the heart of Colorado going over the Rocky Mountains.
“It’s challenging, but it’s definitely very rewarding, and I couldn’t beat it as far as a career goes,” Montou said.
While Montou flies in the front of the cockpit, he wanted Rodriguez to still ride shotgun at Native Son.
“I said, ‘I want this to be your baby,’” Montou said he told Rodriguez.
Native Son offers tapas plates, local libations and weekly entertainment in its Vegas-esque yet family-friendly atmosphere.
The revamped tapas menu offers everything from a cheese board comprising an artisan cheese trio, honey infused walnut, pepperoncini salsa and wild berry jam. One of Rodriguez’s personal favorite dishes is the pulled pork quesadilla featuring queso asadero cheese, tomatillo peach salsa and avocado crema.
“It’s a whole new tapas menu,” Rodriguez said. “It’s all local.”
Being a native, Rodriguez wanted Native Son’s menu to also showcase local gems.
Palisade fruit graces Native Son’s tapas menu while two nitro coffees, two mates, four Kombucha taps and an assortment of craft beer blesses its beverage selection.
“The entertainment is coming back too,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll be getting more live music in, and of course we have our DJs.
“We’re actually scheduling every night into more of a theme night. Wednesday we are going to be doing karaoke, and on Thursdays we are going to be doing a ladies night, where you buy a tapa and you get a glass of sangria on the house.”
With the layover now over, Native Son expects to be open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. until midnight.
“[Rodriguez] sometimes, I think is misunderstood because he has his tattoos and haircut,” Montou says with a laugh. “Anyone who really knows him, and he does know a lot of people in town, will tell you he’s just the sweetest guy with a heart of gold.”
After reaching cruising altitude, Rodriguez said Native Son will serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday before making it a permanent, daily installment.
“Jack definitely came in and saved the day,” Rodriguez said. “The whole vision that we have, it’s like we’re sitting on a gold mine.”