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CHUBurger rock ‘n’ rolls again topped with pickleball partnership

“Now that we’ve built a strong core team who are focused on the customer’s experience, we were more than ready to revisit this opportunity,” Katechis said.

In an unexpected yet gut-filling turn of events, CHUBurger, located at 20 S Bowen St.,  is back in the saddle again — this time in a giant pickle-shaped saddle — intertwining the world of burgers with the actively popular game of pickleball. 

The Oskar Blues Fooderies group, propelled by feedback and a belief in the cherished local burger joint’s return, is forging ahead into uncharted territory, coupling the love for burgers with the fervor of pickleball at 3rd Shot Pickleball.

Although the initial pairing of burgers and a racquet sport might raise some eyebrows, this fusion goes beyond mere experimentation. It’s a collaboration involving Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis and his co-ownership of 3rd Shot Pickleball, which opened in November.

“Now that we’ve built a strong core team who are focused on the customer’s experience, we were more than ready to revisit this opportunity,” Katechis said. “If there’s anything else that I love more than pickleball, it’s a good CHUBurger.”

After CHUBurger’s 2013 launch and expansion across three locations, spanning from Longmont to Denver, the restaurant faced closure amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, it's making a return, armed with fresh perspectives, unique flavors and a culinary-focused leadership crew.

The recent initiative involves temporarily installing a mobile kitchen at the 3rd Shot Pickleball Longmont location, functioning as the central hub for the club’s social scene. It’s joined through a warehouse bay door, serving up the favorite flavors of CHUBurger amongst the activity of the sport and adjacent bar.

This initiative falls under the wings of Oskar Blues Fooderies’ leadership. Founded in 1997, the original brewpub’s growth story intertwined with the burgeoning brewery. By 2016, the restaurant group branched out, birthing concepts like CYCLHOPS Cantina and CHUBurger. Steering the ship today are industry stalwarts Dale Katechis, Jayson Clark, Mike Gleason and Luke Snyder.

With a track record of rejuvenating Oskar Blues restaurants over the past year and a half, Gleason brings a basket-load of experience in launching and expanding diverse culinary ventures, and a passion for having a good time that goes back to throwing his own college parties.

“When I joined, bringing back CHUBurger was a frequently asked question … People in the community, and even within the Oskar Blues network were curious about its return,” Gleason said. “In exploring food options for the pickleball facility, we thought, ‘Why not CHUBurger?’”

With plans to expand the pickleball warehouse, complete with a patio catering to CHUBurger enthusiasts, the restaurant group’s confidence in this union is palpable, aiming to see the expansion in action by early spring.

“We’re planning a grander celebration when we move the operation to the larger space,” Gleason explained. “This fusion isn’t just about burgers and sports. It’s about creating a vibrant, multifaceted community space.”

As he stepped into the adjacent warehouse under construction, Gleason clarified the initial setup and outlined the bigger plan. He envisaged an expansion that would include a larger area with CHUBurger and the bar, increased courts and an outdoor patio for events. And plenty of parking to boot on the vast property.

As on point as the matches surrounding them, CHUBurger is serving up a tantalizing array of bites as exciting as a close pickleball match. Not content with just reviving old favorites, the burger business is unearthing a range of new dishes. 

Alongside their classic burgers and sandwiches, the menu will boast Fooderies-inspired delights like loaded fries, cheesy curds and smoked buffalo wings. CHUB devotees will rejoice in spotting well-loved classics making a comeback, including the BERKburger, the Crispy Clucker, and, without a doubt, the legendary CHUBurger.

At 11:30 a.m., Charles Bailey from Hygiene entered CHUBurger with a grin, his upbeat mood owed to a positive report from his cardiologist. He decided to mark the occasion with a quality burger after catching wind of the reopening on social media. 

Surprised by the pickleball courts adjacent to the seating area, Bailey admitted, “I didn’t know this was here.” Reflecting on his recently placed order, Bailey nodded approvingly, “It’s good to see them get back on their feet.”

An unexpected stroke of Longmontesque serendipity unfolded when the Longmont Leader crossed paths with Joan Harrold, the marketing and development Manager at the Longmont Museum.

Harrold outlined her intentions to bring along her family while rendezvousing soon with a friend equally excited about CHUBurger’s comeback. She stressed the importance of spreading the word to ensure the revitalized place flourishes.

“We used to go to CHUBurger back when it was over on Ken Pratt all the time,” Harrold said. “We probably went there every other week, something like that. It was definitely one of our favorite family places to go… We were super bummed when they closed.”