Basalt is still a town that embraces its longhorns

Town council quickly ends flap over cow mural on outside of new Free Range Kitchen building

What do you get when you cross a longhorn and a Highland cow? A big mural on the side of the new Free Range Kitchen building in Basalt.

Free Range Kitchen opens to the public Friday after some soft opening parties this week. The contractor for restaurant owners Steve and Robin Humble defied current supply chain delays that have plagued the construction industry and finished the space only six months and one day after obtaining the foundation permit.

The restaurant is located at Basalt River Park, strategically planted between a public park that is taking shape and a residential and commercial development. The Humbles bought the space and developed their new site. They moved from the site on Two Rivers Road where they operated for nearly five years.

The couple received a house-warming present of sorts Tuesday night that they received approval from the Basalt Town Council to add a large mural of a cow to an exterior wall of the restaurant.

The town government’s technical review committee initially rejected the request because the proposed mural was too similar to Free Range’s logo of a Highland cow. The TRC members felt that would be a violation of the town’s sign code because the mural, at 10½ feet high and 13½ feet wide, is larger than what is allowed on signs.

The Humbles appealed the decision on grounds that the proposal was wall art rather than a sign. They also tweaked the design of the mural to differentiate it from their cow logo.

The TRC members were sympathetic to the request but the town code requires appeals to be heard by the council. The request went before the board Tuesday night, to the chagrin of some members.

“We’ve regulated the bejesus out of what constitutes a park bench,” Councilman Bill Infante said. “I would hate to think we’d go down that road with public art. That would be insanity.”

Steve Humble downplayed the issue. He said the restaurant supports local farmers and ranchers so it uses a lot of cows in its imagery. It also supports local artists, displaying their works inside. The project architect, Will Young, is also an artist and proposed the idea of adding a mural to the large exterior wall facing Two Rivers Road. The Humbles liked the idea.

“We thought something cow related would be good,” Humble said. “That’s what we’re all about here.”

The council approved the request 7-0 with little debate. Humble said the mural would feature a cow that is a cross between a longhorn, the Basalt High School mascot and team name, and a Highland cow.


See more