Central Park is home to Denver’s deserted 164-foot-tall air traffic control tower —once belonging to the Stapleton International Airport. After Punch Bowl Social vacated the spot, the aviation and beer enthusiasts that own FlyteCo Brewing jumped on this momentous opportunity. This fateful coincidence has gifted Denver FlyteCo Tower — FlyteCo Brewing’s better-looking sister location complete with bites, cocktails and delicious tapped beer.
Co-Owners Eric Serani and Jason Slingsby both attended CU Boulder and completed its rigorous engineering program — Slingsby is a chemical engineer and Eric pursued aerospace engineering. The two fell in love with beer when Eric received a Mr. Beer kit for his 21st birthday. Although they claim the beer was fairly nasty at first, they deeply enjoyed the process of creating this fermented drink. The two combined their engineering knowledge and the final products progressively became better over the years. In 2012, Morgan O’Sullivan became Serani’s next-door neighbor and soon-to-be partner. “We started brewing beer in the backyard with those guys. It was really just a passion project and hobby at the time. It started to grow to a point where we had 150 to 200 people in the backyard. Enough people liked all the beer we brewed ourselves and said ‘Hey, you guys should do this for a living,’” O’Sullivan remembered — now Chief of Operations at FlyteCo.
Chasing a dream that seemed somewhat insane, Serani and O’Sullivan sat down and created their first business plan in 2014. After sifting through a few different location options, they settled on its home site off 38th and Tennyson in our Berkeley neighborhood. When workshopping theme ideas for this brewery, the team found inspiration from their childhood. “Jason and I are both private pilots. I started flying when I was 13 and my grandfather had a friend that was a flight instructor and he would teach me,” Serani explained. “I was fortunate enough to solo fly on my 16th birthday before I even drove a car by myself. When my grandfather passed away between my 16th and 17th birthday, his group called the Experimental Aircraft Association stepped in and gave me a couple thousand dollars to finish my pilot’s license”. Serani continued to explain that he is forever thankful for this gift and has always dreamt of paying it forward. Not only did the team create an aviation-themed brewery in this honor, but now donates 10% of its profits to aviation scholarships.
This meaningful motivation towards charity work is what pushed the team through Covid — an obstacle that occurred only a year after its inception. “Through Covid and the challenges that it presented, it really has been something that always brought us together and centered us in terms of what our goals are,” O’Sullivan shared. Their home location began to thrive after a distinct community was established and the team began discussing expansion. This picture-perfect tower location simply fell into their laps.
“One of our good family friends and investors are developers around the east side of town in Aurora and the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood. They were looking for their next project and the control tower was up for sale. They came to us and said ‘We’ll buy it if you operate the business in there.’ We took a real big deep breath because the building is much bigger than our current operation,” O’Sullivan explained. “The stars definitely aligned here.”
FlyteCo took the brand image even further and partnered with the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum. “They’re helping us out with unused museum exhibits to decorate our space both now and over time in an effort to continue to keep the building fresh for our customers, but also provide an educational aspect that’s a little bit deeper,” he said. The space has many more activities besides staring at its impressive adornment. The site is complete with 6 bowling lanes, 18-hole mini golf, pinball machines, pool tables, air hockey and more games fit for the whole family.
Along with its distinctive venue and décor, FlyteCo offers an expansive list of food, drinks and hot espresso options. Pizzas, sandwiches, salads, burgers and other delectable snacks can be found on the menu. One of O’Sullivan’s favorites, Papas Locas is found under its quick bites selection and consists of crunchy house-made potato chips, pickled veggies and hot sauce. “The goal here is just to provide approachable food that pairs well with the beer and allows people to come in and enjoy our space as their own with friends and family alike,” he described. Although FlyteCo is a brewery, it has options for the few that fail to stomach beer. Along with its tempting wine list, the team is also serving up airplane-themed cocktails including one’s titled Ground Control and The Danger Zone.
We recommend stopping in for the ambiance but staying for the food, drinks and community. “With this new concept, we want to build a space where people feel welcome with their friends, family, coworkers and to be that local neighborhood gathering spot. Everybody has a wonderful story to tell and a wonderful memory and emotional attachment to some aspect of aviation. We want to use that as a vehicle to bring people together and build that community,” O’Sullivan finished. This ambitious team is traveling down the path to do just that.
FlyteCo Tower is located at 3120 Uinta St, Denver. It is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sundays 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and closed Mondays and Tuesdays.