New owner plans to maintain feel of Slopeside |

New owner plans to maintain feel of Slopeside

Mike Lawrence

Bill Banks is the new owner of Slopeside Grill. Jim Cook, of Colorado Group Realty, said there were about 40 inquiries regarding the purchase of the restaurant.

— The new owner of Slopeside Grill said last week that he intends to maintain the feel, menu and operation of the popular restaurant at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

Steamboat Springs resident Bill Banks, 56, closed on the purchase of the Slopeside real estate and business last week. The price of the business was not disclosed. Jim Cook, of Colorado Group Realty, said the real estate was split into two halves, one owned by the family of former Slopeside owner Chris Corna and the other owned by the Levy family. The Corna portion of the real estate sold for $675,000 and the Levy portion for $750,000, Cook said.

The restaurant passed into Chris Corna's parents' hands when he died May 18 in Port Chester, N.Y.

Cook said he had about 40 inquiries regarding a Slopeside purchase and that about 10 of those became serious potential buyers. Cook said Corna's parents were comfortable in selecting Banks as the new owner and thought he was the best fit for the bar and restaurant in Torian Plum Plaza.

Sitting in the sun on the restaurant's patio Thursday, Banks already seemed a natural part of the restaurant's outdoorsy ambience. Retired from working in his family's Banks Corp., a forestry products and lumber company, the silver-haired Banks wore designer sunglasses, jeans and a checked, collared shirt as he tossed a tennis ball to his fox Labrador, Gabby. He recalled skiing Steamboat in the early '70s with his girlfriend Leslie, now his wife of 35 years. They have a home in Florida, with two children and grandchildren scattered across the country.

They bought a home in Steamboat about three years ago, after frequent trips to ski, fly fish and visit made them realize, Banks said, that looking at rentals no longer made sense.

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"My first two Winter Carnivals were in Steamboat," Banks said. "We always liked coming back because of the way the community felt. … It's all about children and young people and family."

Banks said that's the feel he wants to keep at Slopeside, where he's familiar with "a crowd of all ages" relaxing after a day on Mount Werner.

"Being a skier and visitor to this community over the years, many times I've sat out here on the beachfront, listening to music and visiting with friends," he said. "It's a special place."

Banks said he's already begun or completed several interior improvements to the restaurant, including new hot-water boilers, a redone electrical system and new equipment for the kitchen.

"There was some equipment that needed to be upgraded," he said.

He's keeping as much as he can of Slopeside's staff, as well. Former General Manager Camille Flynn left of her own volition, and Banks has hired Chad Gagliano, former owner of the former Ski Time Square bar and music venue Levelz, to manage Slopeside.

"It was important to me to have someone from the local community to manage the restaurant," Banks said, adding that the hire helps show his intent "to operate Slopeside as it has been operated in the past."

He said he's leaving the menu as it is and may add seasonal specials down the road. After this ski season, Banks said, he might extend the outdoor seating area by putting in new bricks, with heating beneath, to increase accessibility and provide a contrast with the planned public promenade at the ski base. That project is contingent on approval from the Torian Plum homeowners association, a group that Banks said has been good to work with so far.

And yes, Banks said, he's keeping Slopeside's popular ice bar, a winter fixture for après ski. But you won't see Banks behind a Slopeside bar — the staff told him he would just slow them down.

"I've been given the ambassador job," Banks said.

The transition so far has been smooth, he said.

"I'm thrilled," he said. "Everybody has made me feel at home and welcome."

Yacht Club sale closes

Jim Cook, of Colorado Group Realty, confirmed last week that Dan and Kim Haggarty have closed on their purchase of the Yacht Club restaurant on Yampa Street.

“They are going to gut the building and make it a more friendly environment so that the space opens out onto the deck,” Cook wrote in an e-mail. “Because they will ultimately lose part of the deck with the new development, we were able to get an approval to add a deck on top of the back dining room.”

The sale price was not disclosed.

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