The Collective: A Social House is the brain child of husband and wife team, Sean and Inez Fitzgerald, owners of the Wobbly Olive, in partnership with friend and fellow mixologist, Phil Arana. The anticipated space officially opened on March 14, and serves as a well-manicured, neighborhood bar set up in the under serviced East side.
The Collective owns the literal blood, sweat and tears of Arana and the Fitzgeralds’. Who took on the responsibility of constructing their new project.
“We made the decision to build it ourselves and because of that we put part of our soul into it,” says Sean Fitzgerald. “I think when people are here they feel that and that’s been part of our success. There’s something to be said about building something and they will come.”
The Collective has it’s own distinct vibe and doesn’t project as a franchise opportunity for the Wobbly Olive. It maintains its own concept and steers clear of a feeling like a regurgitated version of their other menu on Powers. Succinct bar food options like burgers, specialty hot dogs and wings with familiar indulgences keep it casual. Like straight-up Velveeta cheese in the chili and Flaming Hot Cheetos as burger toppings. Staff favorites include the mac and cheese bites, smoked Thai apricot wings, and the chili cheese dog. So yes, consider the Collective your cheat day.
“Food doesn’t have to be difficult to be good,” says Sean Fitzgerald. “This food is simple but they’re doing it so well. They can spend more time on it and even like running the food so they can talk to the guests.”
Executive chef, Justin Edgar, is the 22-year old, former sous chef from the Wobbly. Fitzgerald attributes their recent second place win as overall restaurant in the Springs much in part to Edgar’s creative input.
The drink menu echoes prices and styles that sit well with the area it serves. “We make original cocktails but still make it approachable,” says Sean Fitzgerald. “Add a twist, elevate it, but the foundation is still there.”
An entire section of imbibing dedicates itself to variations of Moscow Mules. Instead of just substituting other spirits for vodka there is clever concept behind each drink.
“We took very popular and well-known cocktails and made mules out of them,” says Phil Arana.
The Polite Englishman is their take on a bramble, made with Lee Spirits dry gin, raspberry liqueur, triple sec, fresh lime and ginger beer. Rolling with a crew? A sharable 96-ounce copper cup creates a fishbowl effect.
Although the Collective doesn’t brew their own ginger beer they do use an original, Cock’n Bull. “We haven’t found a recipe or another product that even comes close,” says Sean Fitzgerald. “It’s got a good bite,” says Inez Fitzgerald.
With a high demand for their specialty mules the Collective anticipates they’re one of the biggest sellers of the product statewide.
A short menu of barrel aged cocktails is courtesy of a special bond the owners share with Woody Creek. The Basalt, Colorado, based distillery produces gin, vodka and rye.
“We have a phenomenal relationship with them at the Wobbly and when we opened here they gave us three barrels as a ‘congratulations on your new venture’,” says Sean Fitzgerald. “We started barrel-aging cocktails but we didn’t want to do standard stuff.”
Currently the barrels hold a Gin Martinez, vodka for the spiced mule, and rye for the Paper Airplane.
Quality and affordability is peak priority at the Collective and they seem to know their audience.
“People on the East side aren’t as influenced by trends,” says Sean Fitzgerald. “What they care about is something that’s good, that’s consistent, that’s relatable.”
“People want what they want,” says Inez Fitzgerald.
“And there’s nothing wrong with that,” says Sean Fitzgerald. “We make drinks for their palate not for ours. If someone wants a Jack and Coke, we’re going to make you the best Jack and Coke you’ve ever had. We embrace that and put the same love into every cocktail we possibly can, including if they order a beer. One drink, one time, for one customer.”
The Collective aims to please and are willing to go above and beyond for their patrons. Choosing to operate as a home away from home instead of just a local hangout.
“If somebody wants something even if it’s not on our menu and it’s possible, we say yes,” says Phili Arana. “We’re going to make that happen, somehow.”
“Just like you would a guest walking into your home,” says Inez Fitzgerald. “If they ask you for something you’re going to do your best to give them what they want and make them happy.”
A sincere sense of comradery and commitment to customer service differentiates the Collective from other bars. The Jameson chalkboard that hangs behind the shuffle board is to “pass it forward” so patrons can buy a shot for a fellow drinker.
“We want to bring back that sense of community,” says Sean Fitzgerald. “Talk to that person next to you. Give people a comfortable place to have fun and be social. We wanted a place for this side. We don’t want someone to come in once a month or every three months. We want them to come three times a week. I’d rather see them three days and take less from that person and build a relationship with them. Some of our best friends are regulars at the Wobbly Olive.”
Phil, Sean and Inez are all active in the mixology scene in Colorado Springs and have already hosted other bartenders for moonlight shifts.
“We embrace the entire cocktail culture in this town,” says Sean Fitzgerald.
Arana and Fitzgerald are open about their competitive nature and promise that cocktail competitions will go down.
“We built ourselves a stage,” says Phil Arana. “There’s not a single place in the bar that you can’t see. It’s functional and our community table is set up perfectly for tastings.”
Naturally, an industry night is in order. Monday’s the Collective will stay open til 2:00 a.m. and offer a late night happy hour. Theme nights are on the docket and will be determined by customer requests.
“We’re all about demand and we’re not afraid to try things,” says Phil Arana.
An outdoor patio is near completion with corn hole and multiple fire pits for max summer chill mode. Shuffle board, flip cup and beer pong tournaments will also make the Collective a place to unwind or turn up.
The name, The Collective: A Social House, represents the three owners personalities but highlights their cohesiveness.
“This entire bar is embodied by all the things we’re passionate about designed with us collectively in mind,” says Sean Fitzgerald. “To be able to take all the best ideas we had and put them together. We wanted to build a social house, not a bar or a restaurant. A down to earth, come as you are, dive.”