In early 2020, the folks behind Western Collective in Garden City had an ambitious plan: expand into Boise with an outpost at the 10,500-square-foot space formerly located by the Old Spaghetti Factory (610 W. Idaho St.). When the pandemic hit, they put that plan on hold, ultimately opting for a temporary way to achieve the same effect.
“We decided to move forward with Western Social [the name of the original project], and saw that we wanted another way for people to experience Western Collective throughout the winter,” said Melissa Levick, who manages marketing for Western Collective.
That took the form of Nighthawk, a reservation-only, 70-seat wine, beer and art space that Western Collective expects to open at the former Cafe Olé location in BoDo (404 S. Eighth St.) on Friday, Oct. 30. The cavernous, 4,000-square-foot space, redecorated and full of candles, tufted leather furniture and calfskin rugs, will boast what could best be described as a Santa Fe Gothic ambiance.
Before you ask, the plan is to do this without skimping on, er, contemporary indoor essentials like a hospital-grade air purification system and a team of face-masked personnel.
“We really want to be as cautious as possible,” Levick said.
Nighthawk is a cool concept, and people cozy with drinking in intimate, indoor spaces should check it out while they can. Indeed, Nighthawk comes with an expiration date: May of 2021, when Levick and Western Collective Founder Cary Prewitt will transfer its beer and wine license to Western Social. The new spot was always meant to be a bridge; Western Social is the far side of the river.
Western Social is an exciting thing in its own right. Its expected location has been vacant for years, despite being optimally positioned for a downtown business. The space is big, and so are Levick and Prewitt’s plans for it: a full food menu (think upscale American fare like short rib and Buffalo cauliflower), naturally Western Collective beer, an elevated wine list, cocktails (yes, a liquor license is in the works via the landlord), and a full arcade including bowling and skee ball.
Western Collective has been an outlier when it comes to its response to the pandemic, expanding its offerings at its Garden City location and making itself a social hotspot, while observing protocols like physical distancing and mask-wearing. It has rolled out wine slushes, ramped up home delivery and hosted DJs. Its patio “really put us on the map at the right time,” Prewitt said; but for a lot of businesses, a bit of good luck and fortitude have afforded precious, precarious financial equilibrium during lean and uncertain stretch.
For Levick and Prewitt, however, a more westerly Western was always on tap.
“When we got into this, we knew we wanted to open a second location in the next couple of years,” Prewitt said.