Cheryl Fitzwater: Remembering the Hungry Farmer

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Another Colorado Springs landmark has disappeared. The building that used to house The Hungry Farmer restaurant was demolished in July of 2009 to make way for a fast food restaurant.

The Hungry Farmer opened in June of 1969 on Garden of the Gods Road. They only served dinner, but the restaurant was open seven nights a week with reservations recommended.

Back then, the road was only two lanes. I can still see the huge windmill with the face of that hungry farmer that caught your eye from a distance.

As you made your way past the old wagon out front and through the two big double doors, you entered a warm atmosphere that housed great food and great employees. This was the spot to go if you were here from out of town, or just wanted good food and lots of it. The waiters wore striped bib overalls, and the girls wore long prairie dresses. The homemade soup was made fresh and served in silver buckets. Everyone raved about the homemade cinnamon rolls and oatmeal muffins with honey butter. If you were really daring, you would go out on a limb and get an order of Rocky Mountain oysters.

I started working there in September 1975 and left in September 1998. Yes, I worked 23 years in the same restaurant.

The restaurant was famous for the way they poured coffee. Called a high pour, servers or busboys would balance a coffee cup on their foot as they poured coffee from the old fashion black enamel pots held high in the air.

The place even made the national news in January of 2001 when the last two fugitives from the Texas Seven were caught in the parking lot.

In 1975 they had bands that would play and draw the crowds, with a late-night menu to boot. It certainly was the hot spot back then, and I bet a lot of people around town could tell you about an experience they had there.

With business growing on Garden of the Gods Road, The Hungry Farmer decided to do a lunch menu in 1976. It even boasted an all-you-could-eat soup and salad bar for $3.95.

Later down the road, they gave serving breakfast a try, but stopped because they could not keep up with the nearby Village Inn.

In my 23 years as an employee there, I happen to have had the pleasure of working every shift at some point or another: breakfast, lunch and dinner. I can't begin to tell you what it was like during Air Force graduation, prom night, Easter or Mother's Day. There would be a line of people that would trail out those big double doors.

While waiting to be seated, many enjoyed waiting in the bar. It was called The Still and you could order drinks with names like Watermelon Whoopee or Cantaloupe Eloper.

If it happened to be your birthday or anniversary, then you got the wait staff to sing at your table and a Polaroid picture was taken of the occasion. This place also had a great atmosphere for those who worked there. We were family. I know it was for me and for many of the other longtime veterans who worked there 10 years or more.

After The Hungry Farmer closed its doors in November of 2003, two other restaurants tried the location, but were not successful. The building was a true landmark that will be missed by those who still travel down Garden of the Gods Road.

Reunion info:
A reunion party will be held at Coaches, 729 Garden of the Gods Road, this Saturday at 5 p.m.

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Comment by Saundra Batson on April 9, 2012 at 9:47am

Cheryl....My husband and I ate dinner at the Hungry Farmer on our honeymoon 17 years ago next month. It was late at night, the table across from us had many employees sitting at it and a few were practicing their coffee pouring tricks. It was quite the show!  Between us, we had a Cantaloupe Eloper with 2 really long straws. We drank and drank and drank and drank until I don't even remember us leaving. Thank goodness our hotel was just across the street. LOL  Do you happen to know the recipe for the Cantaloupe Eloper? I would love to recreate it at home. I've done internet searches for it but to no avail. Thanks!

Comment by Judy Purcell on April 16, 2010 at 5:55pm
Yep, I remember it, really liked their bean soup and the atmosphere was always welcoming. Thanks for the history lesson and the reminder of things past.

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