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Longtime, popular Colorado Springs restaurant closes due to impacts of COVID-19 pandemic

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Customer confusion over moving to a new location didn't help, but the owner of the Big Train Family Restaurant said that negative impacts of the ongoing pandemic are what forced her to close permanently.

KRDO

Last Friday was the restaurant's last day open, after 53 years of operating.

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Big Train started rolling in the former Kmart shopping center near the intersection of Fillmore Street and Nevada Avenue, the most familiar location to many of its customers.

Big Train

However, the restaurant was forced to move in 2019 when the landowner sold the property for a redevelopment project; a hotel is now being built on the site.

KRDO

Big Train's last owner, Rashell Kolthoff, said that the restaurant moved to its final location on Garden of the Gods Road a year before she bought the business from a relative.

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"I think a lot of the customers saw the redevelopment at the shopping center and thought we were closing for good," she said. "Then the next year, the pandemic hit. We were closed down several times and people's eating habits changed. We had a lot of older customers and they stopped eating out as much."

KRDO

Kolthoff spent her last day at the business Friday, cleaning up and turning the keys over to the landlord.

"I'm going to visit some of my relatives in Texas," she said. "After that, I'm not sure what I'll do. I'll miss all the people who came here to eat. We were a family business the whole time, and I'm proud of that. We simply couldn't make it work any more."

KRDO

What happened to Big Train is happening to more restaurants than we realize, said Jay Gust, a local restaurant owner who also is a member of the Colorado Restaurant Association.

"I would say not dozens, but hundreds," he said. "Of all types and sizes. And we haven't seen the end of it yet. Larger and traditional restaurants will have a tougher time navigating this pandemic environment. Smaller restaurants that can be more flexible will do better. But the challenge of drawing enough customers, having enough staff, paying higher costs and raising menu prices are things we'll all be adjusting to."

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The pandemic also may play a role in the status of Navaho Hogan, another longtime, popular restaurant near the intersection of Fillmore Street and Nevada Avenue.

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It's been closed since sustaining heavy damage in a fire last May, and the owner did not respond to a call Friday from KRDO NewsChannel 13 about the restaurant's future.

KRDO

Tony and Beck Taylor stopped at Navaho Hogan to reminisce about previous meals and good times there; the restaurant is only a few blocks from Big Train's original location.

"We miss seeing the old restaurants like Big Train and Conway's Red Top and are sad to see them go," they said. "Running a restaurant isn't easy under normal circumstances and now there's COVID to worry about, too."

KRDO

The owner of the Big Train building said that he already has received interest from several prospective tenants, but added that it will no longer be a restaurant.

Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

Comments

21 Comments

  1. And in all the years I lived here, I never ate there once. Never heard a recommendation from anyone who had been there, and never saw any advertising to attract my business. So I for one won’t miss it.

      1. make that 2 dittos.
        also heard they moved from Nevada St-where they had a big regular crowd-to over near the GOG and it went downhill from there.

        1. It’s not like they chose to move, they had to move. some people have to have an opinion even if they don’t have an experience with the topic

    1. Same. I don’t recall it ever looking like a welcoming place, but I do hate to see an established local business go out. Meanwhile big chains continue to unload their garbage microwave meals…

      Isn’t Navajo Hogans a biker bar? I think I went in there once as a kid. The food was awful.

      1. ha- many bars are not known for their food- they go there for the action and excitement of being with others.
        But really who can’t just fry a french fry right?

  2. Just what we need – another hotel squeezed onto Nevada. Wasn’t it supposed to be a bank?

  3. The stimulus money probably did help keep many of these small businesses afloat for a bit (there are searches where you can see, many received tens of thousands of dollars), but that was a patch that can’t keep a business that already had slim profit margins or dipped down into debt or loss afloat. Looks like these two businesses are a good example, loss of location or damage ran down the health of the business and then COVID was a last straw. Glad to have had the Big Train restaurant, sorry to see it go but they did well to be open for so long. Might be great to have regular reports on small businesses that are still open, there’s that egg restaurant on Fillmore that I think was good.

    1. Yeah, they were good last time I went! Monica’s is always awesome too.

      Wade’s cafe is good, but people discovered that and it’s always super overcrowded… Same with Drifters. Wooglins moved over to Barnes, so I haven’t been in a long time. They’re good though. It’s a shame My Sister’s Kitchen went out – that was some good stuff.

      1. I’ll use this as a list of suggestions and start going these places. Wade’s is great, haven’t tried the other three! Thanks!

  4. Made a mistake in not closing when the Nevada Avenue location got closed down. The Springs now full of over-paid nonessentials, thus they should have re-opened as a pub that serves over-priced bar food.

  5. Went there once and they had that “We served pies for specific people and only those people” vibe.

  6. I am a third generation CS Native.
    -Big Train……meh. I tried it several time over the years and it was never anything that was, “ohh I would like to come back”.
    -Navajo Hogan…. The owner is not that smart. I am surprised he stayed in business this long. Had/has zero business sense and even less common sense.

  7. Some how I don’t think a virus closed them down, maybe a lack of business skills did them in. Always great to see how blame gets placed every where but where it belongs.

  8. Had the same bland food catered to Senor Citizens who eat dinner at 3:30. With this in mind, the Mason Jar should be next..

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