Photo courtesy of Jax Fish House

5 of Boulder’s Most Creative Pivots in 2020 


If 2020 were a card game, the deck was stacked with wildcards. Still, Boulder enterprises have been remarkably nimble and innovative, adapting to the challenges and restrictions brought by COVID-19. This college town is a hub of innovation. (Case in point: University of Colorado researchers discovered a scratch-and-sniff test could help prevent the spread of COVID-19).

From outdoor dining made cozy in greenhouses at Black Cat Farms to the Boulder International Film Festival’s drive-in movies, Boulder makes pivoting look graceful.

As 2020 comes to a close, we thought it would be an opportune time to look at some of the creative adaptations made by businesses and organizations throughout Boulder. Here are five of our favorites.

Big Red F Restaurant Group: Reimagining Takeout

Takeout took over in 2020. But, traditionally, some foods just don’t fare well in a to-go format. Recognizing this, Big Red F — which has Centro Mexican Kitchen and Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar in its portfolio — has reimagined its approach to takeout, offering “finish-at-home” meals. Currently, our favorite iteration of this concept is the Feast of Seven Fishes. The six-course, finish-at-home meal is a nod to a Christmas Eve tradition that originated in Southern Italy, so it will satiate your wanderlust, too.

But in addition to offering tasty takeout options, Big Red F is also pioneering a new approach to how your food gets to you. The group’s restaurants are among those that are eschewing third-party delivery apps to do the task in-house, which eliminates the fees that delivery apps charge restaurants and allows establishments to hire and retain more of their own staff members. Plus, unlike the apps, the in-house delivery service can bring booze with your order.

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art: Virtual Studio Tours

While the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art is temporarily closed, art lovers can still connect with Colorado creatives. At noon every Thursday, BMoCA’s Instagram goes on studio tours with local artists. But beyond the tours that give a glimpse into workspaces, you get an intimate look into the artistic process. In a recent episode, silversmith and jewelry maker Kim Harrell, president of the Colorado Metalsmithing Association, is a guest, showing off her moon-inspired spoons. On another episode, Carbondale-based tattoo artist and illustrator Brett Haynes (@grimnymph) gives a tour of his tattoo studio, which has a speakeasy vibe accessible via a hobbit hole, and he discusses tattoo styles. Viewers can ask questions.

Colorado Chautauqua: Socially Distanced WinterFest

The bears aren’t hibernating this winter! As Chautauqua reinvented its holiday celebrations this year, visitors will find a winter wonderland in the park and enjoy an array of bear sculptures. An “Art in the Park” installation as part of Chautauqua’s WinterFest features 15 bear cub sculptures customized by local artists who were selected from a pool of 136 applicants. To promote social distancing, the bears will be hanging out in Chautauqua through May 1, when they’ll be auctioned to benefit Chautauqua, the artists and Colorado nonprofits. A “cyber scavenger hunt” is available, which will relay facts about Chautauqua to your mobile phone. For those who are cozy at home, you can take a virtual tour of the Mary H. Galey cottage that’s decked out for the holidays.

Oskar Blues: Beer and Food Pairings at Home

If you’re missing out on traditional brewpub food (mmm, nachos and wings!), Oskar Blues has you covered. The brewery with taprooms in Lyons, Boulder and Longmont created a series of recipes (complete with instructional videos) that are infused with beers from its CANundrum pack and encourage you to cook with beer, and enjoy a beer while you cook. Among the recipes is a Can-O-Bliss Nachos-O-Fire, which are nachos with a citrusy, hoppy punch from the Can-O-Bliss IPA, a Dale’s Stuffed Pizza made with Dale’s Pale Ale and Citrus Chili Wings made with One-y Hazy IPA.

University of Colorado: Holiday Concerts at Home

In normal times, the University of Colorado’s College of Music presents its festive Holiday Festival semester showcase in Macky Auditorium, a highlight of which is the 2,000 person singalong from the stage to the rafters. The show will go on this year, but in a virtual format, allowing people to stream the concert from home while they trim the tree or cozy up on the couch and enjoy a mug of hot cocoa. Students and faculty members recorded seasonal favorites for this year’s virtual concert so families can enjoy the holiday tradition at home. You can stream the performance through 11 p.m. Jan. 4. The cost is $20 for a single ticket, $40 for a household and $80 for a group.

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