Imagine a lively local hang-out with that exposed brick industrial aesthetic, feel good food, better drinks and an all-around vivacious vibe. A place like this exists right here in Colorado Springs — and it is revolutionizing the downtown area.
COATI Uprise is a space that houses a variety of global street food and dessert vendors, two cocktail bars, art exhibitions and a diverse lineup of special events.
COATI will have its one year anniversary on Sept. 9, but their three day anniversary celebration — which has been branded TROLLEYpalooza — will take place over Labor Day weekend.
“We are really hoping for this to be our annual banger,” said COATI marketing strategist Bonnie Singleton. “We’ve worked really hard to curate a weekend of experiences for different types of people.”
On Friday, Sept. 3 there will be poetry and a market, both featuring local artists and makers, as well as a spray painting class and a DJ. Next door, the Pikes Peak Lager House will have live vintage jazz music on the rooftop.
On Saturday, Sept. 4, COATI will bring back morning cartoons, a costume party and 70s themed silent disco. Starburn will also perform on the Lager House rooftop on Saturday from 12 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
On Sunday, Sept. 5 there will be more live music, an outdoor petting zoo and axe throwing. The celebration will round out on Sunday night on the Lager House rooftop with a movie night.
For a full list of events, visit the COATI website.
“We aim to create different types of events so everyone can find their time to shine at COATI,” wrote Ren Thorpe, COATI’s experience director, in a press release. “When we say ‘hideout for all’ we mean it.”
COATI also hosts regular events every week, including community yoga, sunset Rumba and live music. The Vibe also takes place every Wednesday, featuring pop-up thrifting, painting and aerialists.
COATI has spent their first year downtown putting effort toward supporting local artists and creators. They regularly feature not only music, but also visual and experiential art.
According to Singleton, one dollar for every “Hurricane” cocktail ordered at Rival Bar on the ground floor is also donated to local artists and local nonprofits.
The space is an effective platform for entrepreneurs in the food industry, too. They are given the opportunity to kickstart their venture on a manageable scale by becoming a vendor.
“Startup businesses in a restaurant space can test their concept in a smaller area with more of the expenses covered and a smaller staff needed just to play with things and figure out what they need,” Singleton said.
“Allowing people into our space to make it what they would like is a really innovative way to bring new ideas and voices and visions into our space and into our community.”
Part of what makes their diverse accommodation and flexibility possible is the large, open space COATI is situated in. The aesthetic of COATI is industrial meets hipster, which makes sense — if you know a little bit about the history of the space.
COATI is located in a building that used to be a trolley service center for over five decades during the 19th century. The entire block was known as the Trolley Block. Inspiration for the name “COATI Uprise” is inspired by this history; COATI stands for Colorado Automatic Trolly Interchange.
But the origin of the second part — ‘uprise’ — is less obvious. This is actually a nod to the rebellious spirit of a group of college students back in April 1932.
According to Singleton, the story goes that a group of local students hijacked the very last trolley car on Tejon Street before the service was to be replaced by buses. They lifted the car out of its tracks and rolled it all the way down the road to Palmer Hall at Colorado College, which had originally been built to block the trolley line from passing through the campus.
COATI Uprise adopted “uprise” into their name to commemorate the spirit of those students on that day in April all those years ago.
Singleton shared that this story is reflective of COATI’s values, which includes: Disrupt to Awaken, Rebel to Connect and Innovate to Disprove.
“Our very first year has been a really good indicator of our values,” Singleton said. “Our entire concept is to bring Colorado Springs to the next level.”
For more information about COATI Uprise, visit their website.