The first Punch Bowl Social opened in at First Avenue and Broadway in 2012, just as Denver was really beginning to boom. Four years later, creator and owner Robert Thompson’s business is booming, too.
He’s since opened another seven Punch Bowl locations in Detroit, Austin, Portland, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Schaumburg, Illinois. By the end of 2017, he’ll have opened another six locations in Brooklyn, Chicago, Sacramento, San Diego, Rancho Cucamonga, California, and here in Stapleton. In 2018, he’ll have new spots in Dallas, Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Virginia.
So it’s somewhat incredible to find out Thompson is a high school dropout. He started working in construction and in his uncle’s auto body shop at 12 and had left school by 16, an Inc. profile of the entrepreneur reports. Thompson then came to Denver, where he started his own moving company, got his GED and briefly studied philosophy. It’s an unlikely path, but it eventually took him to the restaurant industry, where for years he worked as a busboy, waiter, bartender and manager all around the country.
Eventually, he opened a critically acclaimed, upscale French brasserie in Denver that put him in debt and failed despite high praise. It was a rough time, but judging from the rest of the Inc. profile, he’s doing just fine now.
The profile is a long but interesting read that essentially sets Thompson up as brilliant Millennial whisperer. Plus, it includes this weird tidbit about the soon-to-come Punch Bowl at the former Stapleton Airport: “the iconic building will include a space-themed roof deck and a yard with an AstroTurf-lined pool with giant inflatable toys.”