Building a little dining empire at the Gypsum Creek Center | VailDaily.com

Building a little dining empire at the Gypsum Creek Center

Ruben Chagoya says people have started asking him if he played Monopoly a lot as a kid.

It's a valid question, considering his business presence in Gypsum.

Back in 2012, he opened Tu Casa, a family-oriented Mexican restaurant, at a location along U.S. Highway 6. A couple of years later, he moved over to a different space in the Gypsum Creek Center, the commercial building located just north of the U.S. Post Office. Fast-forward to 2018, and the Gypsum Creek Center is dominated by businesses owned by Chagoya and his sister Astrid.

Tu Casa still anchors the southern end of the building, but during 2018, Chagoya's enterprises have expanded to include all of the east-facing spaces in the center. Earlier this year, the Chagoyas opened Gypsum Party Supplies, which sells a variety of special occasion wares, and Tu Casa Coffee Shop. In two weeks, the latest Chagoya endeavor — Firebox Sports Bar — will debut in the space that was formerly Mac's Liquor.

Growing with the community

Chagoya has lived in Gypsum since 2003. Before he launched his own dining enterprises, he worked as the head chef at The Dusty Boot in Beaver Creek for 18 years.

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As a downvalley resident, Chagoya thought the Gypsum community needed more restaurant options, so he decided to take the chance and open one. As with any new business, Chagoya said there were some hard times during the early days of Tu Casa.

"For one moment, I thought I had made a huge mistake," he said. But instead of giving up, he decided to go bigger. He moved to his larger space and started planning his next expansion.

Doing what he likes

"The reason I keep expanding is: I am doing what I like," said Chagoya. "I like coffee and like a breakfast burrito in the morning."

Those favorites inspired Tu Casa Coffee Shop. But along with the drinking and dining fare, Chagoya wanted to bring a coffeehouse vibe to Gypsum.

"We wanted to have place where people could hang out and do their work and teens could do their homework," he said.

Chagoya sees Tu Casa Coffee Shop as a place where friends and family can gather together.

"There's more behind this than just a cup of coffee," he said

Likewise, Chagoya believes the community is hungry for a sports bar — complete with a pool table and big screen television sets. So he set to work planning for Firebox. "I like to play pool and hang out in a big bar," Chagoya said. "This will be a place where people can watch game and cheer for their team."

He also envisions expanding on the sports bar concept to offer live music and specialty entertainment including karaoke or games.

There will be plenty of space to do that, he said. Firebox will have a 32-foot bar and the space covers 2,500 square feet.

The bar menu at Firebox will include everything from nachos to Cajun shrimp to bar staples such as chicken wings and pork sliders. Prices range from $18 to $8.

Chagoya said his new business is already generating lots of buzz around Gypsum.

"People call me every day to ask when we are opening," Chagoya said.

The answer is in two weeks. Firebox plans its soft opening on Monday, Nov. 19.