Seven years after resurrecting the historic Forks restaurant and general store in Livermore, owner Scott Jennings is putting it on the market.
Jennings, who also owns Cheba Hut and The Still Whiskey Steaks in Old Town, said he needs to focus on expanding Cheba Hut nationally.
The Forks — the deli and restaurant — “are functioning very well,” he said. “I don’t have to sell it but if I find a good fit, I will. If I can’t find a good fit, I wouldn’t sell.” Price is negotiable, he said.
“Things are going great there, and there are great people working there,” he said.
Jennings bought the Forks in 2011 from Wayne and Phyllis Schrader for about $160,000 and reopened the general store before adding a deli and eventually the upstairs restaurant and bar.
All three have been popular with travelers along U.S. Highway 287 between Ted’s Place north of Fort Collins and Laramie, Wyoming, as well as local residents who wanted to get a quick bite, watch the Broncos games or pick up milk or toilet paper but didn’t want to drive to Fort Collins or north to Red Feather Lakes.
“There’s a great opportunity up there,” Jennings said. “I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the place. It’s a piece of history … it was around before we were a state, and I want it to live on.”
Located at “the fork” at U.S. Highway 287 and County Road 74E — also known as Red Feather Lakes Road — the store has often been used as a navigational and directional tool by locals. Heading to Red Feather Lakes? Take a left at The Forks. Heading to Virginia Dale or Wyoming? Keep driving past the Forks.
The original Forks Hotel and Café opened for business in March 1875 as a frontier hotel and stage stop. The building was destroyed by fire in December 1985 but was rebuilt on the same site.
Before Jennings stepped in, The Forks, about 25 miles northwest of Fort Collins, had been empty since April 2010 when the Lafayette couple who reopened it in late 2009 defaulted on the lease. It suffered from lack of inventory and sporadic hours.
Jennings announced in September he planned to take Cheba Hut, the marijuana-themed toasted sub franchise national. He said the time was right given “the green bubble”: the increasing support for legalized medical and recreational marijuana.
The company did more than $25 million in sales last year and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Jennings sold the two Fort Collins Cheba Huts in 2014 but recently bought them back and formed a partnership with franchisees Marc Torres and Dave Timmons, who owned the Fort Collins and Greeley locations.
Currently, about 60 percent of Cheba Huts are run by franchisees. That ratio will shift to 50-50 this year, said Jennings, who from now on plans to open only company stores.
Cheba Hut opened its largest stores in Longmont and Las Vegas last year. Jennings moved Cheba Hut’s national offices from Arizona to 1305 Duff Drive, No. 7, in Fort Collins more than three years ago. He has lived in Fort Collins since 2003, when he opened the city’s first Cheba Hut at Laurel Street and College Avenue, where it remains today.