City looking for qualified vendor for cafe

Council sees Centennial Hall eatery as a place where food, conversation merge

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— Consider crunching a cruller with Councilor Kathy Connell. Or eating some good food with Planner Scott Woodford. Both of those dreams may soon come true as the city prepares to lease the cafe in Centennial Hall to a qualified vendor.

The city's request for proposals, which are due back by May 4, asks for proposals from vendors interested in operating a "coffee bar type service."

The food would likely be made offsite, possibly by a vendor already operating an eatery in Steamboat Springs.

The city will collect rent from the vendor as well as a portion of the concessionaire's gross revenues over a minimum amount.

The cafe is located in the old Elkins Power Plant building on 10th Street, which was restored in conjunction with the construction of Centennial Hall.

A door marked with cattle brands from ranches throughout Routt County separates the cafe from the Crawford Room, a stately meeting room bearing the name of the city's founder.

The city has already outfitted the cafe with some notable pieces of furniture, including the old back counter from F.M. Light and Sons and an Italian countertop. The tables in the cafe have marble tops donated by Doug Terry of Terry Sports.

When City Council (or any other group) is meeting in Citizen's Hall, the voices of council members and audience participants can be heard through speakers in the ceiling of the cafe there has even been talk of installing a closed-circuit television in the cafe to broadcast meetings.

The cafe is part of City Council's vision of a meeting space where good food and good conversation intermingle. City Council President Kevin Bennett said he wanted food to be an integral part of the new space, which he hopes will draw people in and make them want to stay.

"Food is part of almost every public meeting that is held here," Bennett said. "It's part of opening community government more to the community."

Councilwoman Arianthe Stettner also pushed for food to be integrated into the new building. In a written statement she prepared in March, she wrote, "Food is an honored tradition at meetings all around Steamboat Springs, so it's only natural that people would appreciate the ability to conduct some business over a cup of coffee or a sandwich," she said.

Stettner also envisioned the cafe as a space where city employees could eat lunch.

The city decided not to run the cafe itself, because, as Stettner noted, "We already have a lot of fine food service professionals in Steamboat, so we'll continue to use them as we have in the past."

Centennial Hall cost the city about $3.6 million but was financed about 27 percent with grants and donations.

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