Colorado Springs Connection: In an effort to better connect Colorado College with the larger community of Colorado Springs, The Catalyst is featuring one community member a week. Photos by David Andrews and Kiki Kauffman
Wooglin’s owner Kelvin Thorne does not have a title on his business card. “I do everything,” said Thorne. Kel, as he is called by his employees and friends, has owned Wooglin’s since 2000 when he took over the restaurant on a handshake deal. Thorne’s philosophy is that every time a customer comes into Wooglin’s they are treated like a guest in his own home. Thorne has been working in restaurants since he was 13 years old and worked as a manager and owner of a Schlotzky’s franchise prior to Wooglin’s. Six days a week, Thorne is in Wooglin’s at 5 a.m. and working on the selection of baked-from-scratch items. “Scratch baking is sort of the hip, cool thing right now, but we’ve been doing that for years,” said Thorne. Thorne existed mostly on the periphery of CC until 2008 when his son, Tyler, decided to attend CC on a football scholarship. “He had a world class education,” said Thorne, “I am so beholden to CC for that. On the other side I think it helped me learn a lot about CC through his friends.”
Thorne is a constant presence in Wooglin’s and leads a crew of about 20 employees. Thorne spends most of his time in the kitchen with a tight-knit group of cooks. Jeremy is the head chef at Wooglin’s and is a powerful, thick-armed force in the kitchen. Thorne speaks highly of his whole kitchen crew. “We can move man, when it gets busy back here during homecoming or graduation we are crushing it.” Alongside Jeremy are assistant chefs Robert and Dusty. On a mellow Thursday afternoon the crew was relaxed, but moved with the practiced precision of a cohesive team. Rounding out the kitchen crew is Logan. Thorne beams when he talks about Logan who has been at Wooglin’s for one year and comes from a “tough background.” At the moment, Logan is splitting his time between washing dishes and cooking.
Todd Renz, the general manager at Wooglin’s has been with the restaurant for 14 years. “Wooglin’s has sort of grown and evolved with my life,” said Renz. Renz has moved his way up through the Wooglin’s management structure and took over as general manager when Thorne’s original partner left the business. Renz can be found behind the front counter taking orders and whisking orders off to tables.
For Thorne, the reason that he works as hard as he does is because of his employees. “Everything I do I do it for my employees. I owe it all to a great crew like them for the success Wooglin’s has seen. Absolutely, a lot of people’s lives are tied up in this building.” Wooglin’s Deli is open Monday-Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.