Boulder Reservoir Plans
Visitor Service Center and Reservoir Restaurant
The new Visitor Service Center at the Boulder Reservoir is the direct result of the community approved 2017 Concept Plan. Boulder Parks and Recreation (BPR) looks forward to fulfilling the vision outlined in this concept plan and we are very excited about our hospitality partnership with the Dine and Dash Group, which operated the Driftwind restaurant.
Driftwind is a restaurant, concession and event space located in the new Visitor Services Center. This beautiful new space exists to serve the Boulder community as well as being an enhancement to the park.
- Visit driftwindboulder.com for the most up-to-date hours and menus.
- Looking to host an event at Driftwind? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project History and Overview:
What is the new Visitor’s Services Center?
The Reservoir is one of the most popular and heavily visited park facilities in the city and region. It is also one of only six northern Front Range facilities supporting water-based and powerboating recreation opportunities and though smaller than other area facilities, the Reservoir offers a significant range of services to the community and maintains one of the highest visitation rates of approximately 300,000 per year.
The Reservoir previously operated a concessions area near the beach provided by an outside contractor.
In 2012, the Boulder Reservoir Master Plan indicated that the most critical facility serving Reservoir visitors needed repairs and renovation, and in 2016, staff began planning for its replacement based on the cost of rehabilitation exceeding that of a new facility.
The final concept plan, approved by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) in January 2017, was developed based on feedback from a cross-section of Boulder community members, Reservoir user groups and the PRAB.
Why have a restaurant and public/private partnership at the Reservoir?
Through the development of the concept for the new building, BPR talked to the community. Based on that input and policy direction from the Boulder Reservoir Master Plan and BPR Master Plan, these goals were established and approved by the PRAB:
Extending shoulder season use opportunities of the Reservoir;
Establishing partnerships with various groups to expand programming and offset construction and operating costs;
Expanding concessions offerings with possibilities of obtaining a liquor license for the site and for exploring a partnership with a larger scale concessionaire;
Creating a “welcoming” and “family-oriented” design character, promoting a healthy and athletic lifestyle, and focusing on sustainability of the facility; and
Creating multi-use spaces serving a variety of events across all generations of user groups.
The building and partnership, similar in some ways to how the Flatirons Events Center operated at the Flatirons Golf Course and by Spice of Life, before the 2013 floods, was designed to support these goals. The goals have been reiterated throughout the process.
Who is the operator of the restaurant?
The Dine and Dash group, which will operate under the trade name Driftwind, operates the restaurant. Josh and Kate Dinar and Chef Daniel Asher are all local to Boulder County and known for their contributions to the community.
Driftwind will provide a year-round, but seasonally shifting, food amenity and event space for the Reservoir. The cuisine will be a food-forward concept, with an emphasis on local and sustainable providers, and a place that is accessible to families and adults, and in the upper mid-price point.
Here is an introduction from Josh Dinar:
I’d like to let you know a little about who we are and what our eventual plans are to help activate the space in cooperation with the City of Boulder and the Parks and Recreation Department. First, you should know that we, like you, love the Boulder Reservoir. This place is very much our home. My wife and I met in Boulder in 1997 and have been residents here ever since. We started our businesses here and are raising our family here.
We own T/ACO restaurant, River and Woods Restaurant, Ash’Kara Restaurant on West Pearl. We also own other concepts in Golden and Denver. I also publish DiningOut, a magazine which is about restaurant culture.
We have dedicated our adult lives to the restaurant industry because bringing people together to share a moment in time is fulfilling for us in profound ways. We believe that the best restaurants are reflections of the places where they are, that they enhance that place, providing an expression of it for all those who visit.
Restaurants for us are a vehicle to community. Food and drink just happen to be the medium by which we celebrate it.
I have heard concerns about sound, wildlife and safety. How is the city addressing these concerns?
To ensure sound does not impact nearby neighbors or wildlife, we have purchased and installed sound level monitoring equipment that will continuously monitor and record sound levels. This will help us ensure we comply with all sound ordinances and commit that after 9 p.m. there will be minimal sound intrusion beyond the property line.
In addition, BPR’s staff naturalists regularly conduct bird counts and monitor species at the Reservoir. These teammates and consultants are being consulted as sound protocols are developed, and sound checks have confirmed that building sound is not reaching sensitive wildlife areas.
All lighting will comply with the city's lighting ordinance, which requires that all exterior lighting face downward and be enclosed to limit light pollution.
We have consulted with Boulder County Sheriff, City of Boulder Transportation, Boulder County Transportation and City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks. 51st Street is classified as a collector street in Boulder County’s Transportation system and has the capacity to handle up to 10,000 vehicles/day. The last traffic study indicated volumes of less than 25% of this number during the busiest times and far less most of the time.
To continue to improve safety and multi-modal access to the Reservoir, the city and Boulder County will focus investments on enhanced multi-modal facilities on 51st Street. While it does have wider shoulders, separated and/or protected lanes for pedestrians/cyclists would be better at balancing 51st Street as both a collector road and a neighborhood street for those who live adjacent and promote multi-modal access to the Reservoir.
To address concerns that events will negatively impact the neighborhood, and to balance this positive community benefit with neighbors’ concerns and requests, since 2013 the city has incorporated various event control procedures including creation of a Special Event Review Team and policy to ensure event promoters comply with rules and regulations.
Other Background Information
The Boulder Reservoir Master Plan is a major policy document to guide long-term operations and investments at a unique amenity serving the city and region. Developing this plan included significant engagement across the community.
The Visitor Services Center Concept Plan was developed with input received at public open houses, via public review and comment online, and input from the PRAB and Boulder’s Youth Opportunities Advisory Board. The final concept was approved by the PRAB in January 2017, after input on the final design was received through a final public comment period posted online and notified to over 8,000 emails.
The lease between BPR and Landloch, LLC clarifies the shared goals of this partnership and outlines the responsibilities of each to implement this partnership for the benefit of Boulder. It was developed based upon the guidance from the two above projects and finalized with input from the PRAB and approved by the PRAB and City Council.
The lease includes the commitment of each party to ensure that the operations of the leasehold align with and promote community values. The term of the lease is five years. It was first amended in October 2020 and a second amendment, made in February 2021, reflected the delay in initiation due to the pandemic.
This document summarizes extensive engagement and work with nearby neighbors to address concerns. The city’s Good Neighbor Commitment documents the interests to be good neighbors and develop improved two-way communication.