Caterer awaits plan for damaged building
Last Updated: 17:01 November 20, 2013
But he's also got plenty to attend to with the still-operating portions of his business, including trying to bring those all under one roof.
Rubin, who co-owns A Spice of Life Catering Services LLC with Dan Bruckner, said Wednesday that the catering portion of the business is still rolling along with its corporate cafés and event planning divisions. But the event center has been shuttered for about two months now after the September flood damaged the public portions of the aging city-owned building.
"We're still plenty busy; we just have a big hole where that events center was," said Rubin, whose business leases about 13,000 square feet of the roughly 18,000-square-foot building at 5706 Arapahoe Ave. "Maybe it's finally time to rebuild. And maybe this put it over the edge.
"The city is just doing it by the book as you would expect."
The city is working with a consultant to conduct architectural and engineering assessments of the building, assessing flood mitigation that would be required in any repairs, as well as what retrofits would have to be done to bring the building up to city codes and Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
The intent, said city recreation superintendent Alice Guthrie, is to gain a general sense of new building cost versus repair cost. Guthrie said there is no timeline for when repairs or a rebuild might be done until city staff has time to evaluate the consultant's report, which is expected sometime in January.
In early 2010, the city worked on a master plan that included, in addition to various upgrades to the golf course, a new building to house a pro shop, bar and events area. Parks and Recreation director Kirk Kincannon said there were three different plans drawn up for such a building that varied in size and amenities, though nothing was set in stone as far as what would happen or when.
Once estimated repair costs are known, Kincannon said it's likely that the three new-building scenarios would likely be discussed as a point of comparison.
"It will certainly drive the discussion (of whether to rebuild) one way or the other," Kincannon said of the flood damage.
The building had about two inches of floodwater inside, Rubin said, damaging flooring and walls and causing some mold issues. Rubin and Bruckner originally began working right away to rip out flood-damaged materials in preparation to make repairs. They even cleaned up enough to host two weddings and a memorial service at the event center on Sept. 14 and 15, just days after the flooding began.
But city officials advised them the following week to nix any repair efforts until the city decided what direction it wanted to go with the building.
Both Kincannon and Guthrie said that if the city decides to rebuild it would likely seek out a public-private partnership, potentially with Rubin and Bruckner, who have talked to the city in past years about rebuilding at the site.
"We hope we have first right of refusal on what happens there next," said Rubin, whose 25-year-old company has leased space there since 1998. "But we really are waiting on studies, cost and whether it's going to be a rebuild or a refurbish."
Fortunately for Spice of Life, the kitchen area of the building was untouched by the flood. Rubin said Spice of Life got approval on air quality and had the walls tested for moisture and mold, and have been operating the catering business out of the space ever since.
But the flood didn't come without some hefty consequences. Spice of Life had to lay off about 16 of its 162 employees about a month ago due to the wiped out event hosting business. After hitting $4.2 million in revenue last year, Rubin said the company will do about $3.6 million this year. He said it stands to lose about $850,000 in sales because of the flood.
The event center had played host to meetings for more than 30 civic groups in the city, and Rubin said the first few weeks after the flood were spent scrambling to help those groups find spaces. The company is still catering some of the events that it had to move offsite.
"It was very very hard for us," Rubin said of laying off staff and announcing to clients that the event center was going to close.
Aside from keeping the remaining portions of the business running smoothly, Rubin and Bruckner are zeroing in on new space for the company. Spice of Life's main business offices are at 5541 Central Ave. Rubin said the intent is to find about a 10,000-square-foot space that could house the main offices, kitchen, catering business and, possibly, even a small event space.
The new space, he said, could end up being temporary if Spice of Life were a part of whatever plans the city moves forward with on the building at the golf course. But he also acknowledged that if the city to rebuilds, a new building there could be two to three years away.
"In the meantime, I need to hedge my bets, and I need to find a permanent home with a very large commissary kitchen that can handle the growth that Spice of Life continues to have," Rubin said.
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