Located in a church built in the 1800s, with as much history as Colorado Springs can muster, there is a collective of artisans who have intentionally created menus that focus on bringing community together again and again.
Steeped in History
The Payne Chapel was built in 1897 as an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. The four Carter Brothers moved from Philadelphia to Colorado Springs in 1872 and started a meeting in their own home as there was no church for them in the city at that time. Colorado Springs city founder, General William Palmer, donated the land for the chapel to be built. Members worked with the US Corps of Engineers to bring over stones from Bear Creek Canyon for the building’s façade.
A New Mission
Today, the concept is come-as-you-are-unpretentious and yet elevated at the same time. Local producers’ seasonal offerings drive the menus. There are five sommeliers on staff and the education you can receive on the nuances of beer is unparalleled. And yet, if you don’t consider yourself a wine or beer connoisseur you are welcomed just the same; there is something for everyone.
The Carter Payne approach incubates restaurants and fosters job training and revitalization through a social enterprise. Immerse Cuisine consciously composts all that it can and Local Relic works with nearby restaurants and grocers to “rescue” produce from being tossed in the trash. “The carbon footprint has already been spent,” explains co-owner Jeff Zearfoss, “but that food can still be used to ferment. So, it goes from potential waste to inspiration.”
Local Relic, a tenant of The Carter Payne, boasts 200 unique beers every year. You’ll never get the same thing twice, and it is the most delicious way to live in the moment.
Chatting with the Chef
I sat at my table and watched Chef Brent Beavers make his way around to every table at Immerse Cuisine to check in on the guests. It was obvious to me that a few of the guests were regulars because they spoke like friends. When it was my turn, he took the time to not only talk about the food, but also the 1200 square foot garden he is cultivating at home or the fact that his beehive is going to be delivered mid-month. His staff occasionally comes out to ask a question and he rattles off recipes from memory.
On any given day you can walk in, sit at a table and watch community happen.
There is a table of friends talking about their day and their jobs, dissecting life over a couple classes of wine and a charcuterie board. There is laughter, smiles and everyone is talking with their hands. There are two couples sharing a flight of beer. Where the conversation might have lagged, the intricacies of their tasting fills the gaps. Another guest sits at a table, casually dressed in a hoodie and ballcap while she enjoys a quiet dinner by herself. Two gentlemen in the corner share a conversation over wine. Another guest reads a book, flanked by a few bottles from Local Relic to take home.
This is a place to experience community in a hyper-local setting through history, atmosphere, people, food, drinks and music. Give it a chance and see what the space can be for you.