Tucked under an interstate overpass next to a gas station, the Pump Room is bringing a new flair to a space rich in Casper restaurant history.
The location of the original Benham’s and later, Poor Boys Steakhouse, is a property of C85 group, which also owns the Wonder Bar, the former Galles Liquors and Branding Iron, with a projected opening date of Jan. 2 in the old Botticelli location on Second Street. The Branding Iron will feature burgers, salads and pasta, as well as a full bar.
Pump Room features a large package liquor retail space, a private dining room with seating for at least 20 and an intimate bar and food space.
There are separate outside entrances to the retail space and the bar and each can be accessed from the other inside.
Skyler Joy is part of the three-person C85 Group management team, serving as assistant operations manager to Jim McBride. Bob Henry is the culinary manager and together, the three oversee all aspects of the group’s growing hospitality businesses.
The retail section features slushy machines with 12 flavors and a large selection of beer, wine and spirits.
“We are pretty comfortable in our selection and pricing being pretty competitive,” Joy said. “I love the wine selection and love our whiskey selection. We take pride in that.”
While Joy said Wyoming consumers like their whiskey, he said there is “a large amount of curiosity,” when it comes to trying new brands.
The retail side features a growler station with four rotating beers.
Joy said the lure of a growler station is offering “keg beer that you can’t necessarily find in package.”
“This way, you can take it home and enjoy it for a weekend.”
Just off the retail space is a lovely room, dubbed “the wine room,” which is available for private gatherings.
Joy estimated that 10 to 15 groups have already used it for Christmas parties, company gatherings and even large family gatherings. A stunning, handcrafted table of wood and metal centers the space, with 20 grey leather chairs around it. The live wood slab table top was crafted by Casper’s John Dierenfeldt, and the base and metal accents were made by Kustom Koncepts, also of Casper.
While wait staff service is available in the room, there is also enough space for casual serve yourself, as well as additional round tables to accommodate more seating.
One bonus of the space is private restroom facilities.
“We market this as situational, meaning we don’t have a fixed rental price to use the room,” Joy said. “Instead, we talk to you and find out, do you need bar service, will you be ordering from the menu, what is it that you want to do with this space.”
For generations, Casperites marked special occasions with an evening at Benham’s. The dark supper club atmosphere and romantic, rustic Pump Room bar space brought the feel of luxury that was missing from Casper’s dining scene at the time.
C85 has returned some of that ambience to the Pump Room, with intimate seating for 50 to 60 at small tables and a stylish bar top.
There are no televisions, and Joy said that is on purpose.
“The vision is very intimate and cozy — business lunches, date nights, happy hour. You can have an intimate conversation and hear each other,” he said.
The menu, while newer to Casper, is nothing Wyomingites should fear, Joy said.
“We call it tapas style, small plates, appetizers, shareables. We love to encourage you to pick out a few things and get to try a few different things from the menu. There is nothing on here you can’t pronounce, nothing you haven’t had before, it’s just presented in maybe a newer, fresher way.”
Joy mentioned pork, steak and chicken as all being prominent on the menu, along with charcuterie boards, which are a selection of meats and cheeses presented on a large platter or board.
“The food is pretty straightforward. It’s being able to try something and talking about it with the rest of your table,” Joy said. “Half the fun of going out is seeing what other people are ordering, and we want you to do that here.”
The Pump Room side features a wine station at one end and a spirits station at the other, allowing patrons to dispense their own from a cash card situation loaded at the bar.
At the wine side, for example, you can purchase a taste, a 3-ounce half glass or a 6-ounce full glass. Domestic wine tasting starts as low as $1.49.
“You might not want to buy a bottle of wine for $150, but now you can try it for far less,” Joy said.
The other end of the space features a spirits station, with the same concept labeled taste, single or double.
“If you want to spend $20, you load $20 on the card at the bar, and then you try what you want,” Joy said.
The retail side has been open since mid-August and the Pump Room since mid-October. There is no obligation to purchase food in the Pump Room, so those looking for a new spot for an after-work beverage or Happy Hour wind-down are more than welcome, Joy said.
Retail hours are 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Pump Room hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Joy stressed that food is available until closing time seven nights a week.