Original article can be found at Colorado Daily
Originally published on September 28,2010
By Vanessa Miller
After being honored by the University of Colorado’s Center of the American West in the morning and speaking over lunch for the Colorado Conservation Voters, media mogul Ted Turner spent Tuesday night mingling with dignitaries at his new Pearl Street restaurant.
In Turner’s 55th Ted’s Montana Grill — decorated with replicas of pictures that decorate Turner’s personal estate — the 71-year-old philanthropist and businessman celebrated the opening of his newest restaurant with local celebrities such as CU President Bruce Benson.
“We thought it was a natural,” Turner said of his decision to open a restaurant at 1701 Pearl St. in Boulder. “Our trademark is bison.”
Turner said he’s known locally for donating a couple of the “Ralphie” buffaloes that are used as CU mascots to run on the field before football games, and he thinks plenty of the CU faithful will frequent the new American grill, in part, because of that connection.
Turner — America’s largest private landowner with about 2 million acres — received the 2010 Stegner Award from CU’s Center of the American West on Tuesday for using his “entrepreneurial acumen, his unprecedented philanthropy and his dedication to build unique alliances focused on land conservation and preservation.”
Turner said Tuesday night that he bought all the land “so the bison would have a home.” Bison came close to extinction, he said, and, “I certainly wanted to be involved in bringing them back.”
His Montana Grills arose out of a desire to find a market to sell bison meat.
“The best way was to market them through a chain or bison restaurant,” he said.
Turner founded CNN and made a $1 billion gift to support United Nations causes. He said his restaurants also are meant to be a “positive influence.”
“For some people, going out to eat at a restaurant is the biggest treat they get all week,” he said.
Turner’s business partner George McKerrow said they began looking for a way into the Boulder market two years ago but were waiting for the right spot to open up. When the Sunflower Restaurant closed, McKerrow said, he jumped in.
“Ted really encouraged us to find a place here,” he said, adding that Colorado is the No. 1 bison consumer in the United States.
Both men have Boulder connections — McKerrow’s son is a sophomore at CU, and Turner spent time in Boulder previously when the son of Jane Fonda, his former wife, attended the university.
With eight other Montana Grills in Colorado, Turner said the Denver metro area has become like a “second home to me.”
The restaurant is holding private parties Friday and Saturday with proceeds benefiting the Center for ReSource Conservation and the Rotary Club of Boulder. The restaurant’s official opening is planned for Monday.