Hungry for change: Elk Creek Mining Company rebrands to 88 Grill in New Castle
In 1999, John Webber opened Elk Creek Mining Company Bar & Grill at 502 Main St. in New Castle.
Over two decades later, the Colorado River Valley resident and restaurateur was hungry for a change.
So, Webber recently rebranded Elk Creek Mining Company into 88 Grill. As its name suggests, the eatery on the west end of main street downtown, boasts all things ’80s.
However, while 88 Grill’s bar area transports diners into the realm of Pac-Man and pinball, the restaurant’s dining room showcases the year New Castle was incorporated – 1888.
“Most of the decorations in the dining area are from New Castle at the turn of the century,” Webber said.
Additionally, 88 Grill’s menu includes seven signature burgers, Mexican food, salads, sandwiches and a variety of cocktails such as Flanagan’s Pink Squirrel.
A throwback to the 1988 film “Cocktail” starring Tom Cruise who plays a New York City bartender named Brian Flanagan, the Pink Squirrel combines white crème de Cacao, amaretto, raspberry liqueur and cream, chilled and served in a martini glass.
“It’s like a chocolate covered, cherry milkshake,” Webber said. “That’s a unique ’80s drink.”
According to Webber, several of 88 Grill’s menu items were retained and revamped from Elk Creek Mining Company with one example being the burritos and bowls.
Webber said that one of Elk Creek’s most popular dishes was its Dos Hombres burrito.
Although not specifically listed on 88 Grill’s menu, customers can still enjoy all of the Dos Hombres’ fixings by creating it themselves.
Topped with cheddar-jack cheese, lettuce, candied jalapeños and pico de gallo, customers can then select their own protein like the tequila lime shrimp as well as their choice of beans and rice. Lastly, the burrito or bowl gets smothered in a pork green chili, jalapeño cream sauce or vegetarian tomatillo sauce.
“There’s one item that people can still get exactly the same,” Webber said.
Additionally, directly above 88 Grill, Webber recently put the finishing touches on five themed hotel rooms known collectively as the Ore House Inn.
Previously, Webber rented the rooms out as apartments. However, after transforming one of the dwellings into an O.K. Corral themed room, it wasn’t long before the rest of the rooms received their own identity too.
From the “Game of Thrones” themed Winterfell room to Area 51 and the comic book-laden Iceberg Lounge, the Ore House Inn combines comfort and character.
“The fifth [room] I was just torn on,” Webber said. “It could’ve been skiing; it could’ve been winter sports; it could’ve been a lot of different things.”
After bouncing ideas around with his sons Johnny and Treigh Webber, John Webber went with a dinosaur and Pokémon themed room known as Jurassic Pok.
“Dinosaurs in the bedroom and video games in the living room,” Webber said of the Jurassic Pok room.
Although separate business entities, Webber wanted the Ore House Inn’s character to complement 88 Grill’s cuisine.
Grateful for Elk Creek Mining Company’s loyal customers over the years, Webber hoped those same regulars would still enjoy all of 88 Grill’s offerings.
“We didn’t close while we were redoing this, so we got to talk to all of our customers every day about what our intentions were,” Webber said. “We changed because we needed to. We changed because you have to evolve.”
Webber said converting Elk Creek Mining Company into 88 Grill would not have been possible without his wife Cori, his business partner Nicole Moore and the entire kitchen and wait staff that stuck around despite the change.
88 Grill is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
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