New restaurant in El Rancho location

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— Marty Lepper doesn't know the length of the lease she and her family signed for the restaurant at 425 Lincoln Avenue. The only thing she knows is that she wants to stay until her children call Steamboat Springs home.

"Long enough for them to fight to get out like I did and then come back," she said.

Lepper has two sons, ages 5 and 3. She moved back to her hometown three months ago from Phoenix.

On Tuesday, Lepper; her husband, Bill Lepper; her sister and brother in law, Kim and Thong Truong; and her parents, Marty and Joanne Boomgarden, opened Seasons at the Pond. It's a restaurant and sports bar in the space where El Rancho Nuevo once was.

The Pond, open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., is a hockey themed bar whose atmosphere couldn't be more worlds away from its predecessor.

"We wanted a place where parents could take their kids to watch a hockey game," said Marty Lepper. The bar is non-smoking. The walls are painted a textured white and light blue to look like ice. The walls are covered with an impressive collection of hockey memorabilia acquired over the years by Bill Lepper.

The Pond is coupled with a family restaurant. The entrance is a gift shop full of home accessories, baskets, dishes, jellies and Christmas items.

"We wanted to make it feel homey," Marty Lepper said.

The Seasons at the Pond restaurant is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. for breakfast and lunch and in the evening for private, catered parties. Thong Truong was the chef at Winona's for years and Bill Lepper is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York.

The menu is priced to attract families, Marty Lepper said. She also hopes to attract the kind of people she remembers coming to the El Rancho restaurant when she was a little girl.

"I remember the rancher's table," she said. "They would come in and drink coffee all the time.

"If anyone has pictures of their family in the dining room from those days, I would love to see them," she said. "I would love to hear their stories."

While redesigning the layout of the building the bar now has a door, the kitchen is closed they added an archway between the lobby and the dining room.

"We pulled down a piece of sheetrock and we found some of the original beige and light green tile from the old restaurant," she said.

They decided to leave it there. They patched over it and added their own sage-colored layer/chapter.

Opening day was "perfect," Marty Lepper said.

The restaurant was full of friends who came to check out the creation of a local family and at night, the bar was full, she said.

Seasons at the Pond is the culmination of a family formed when two sisters, Marty and Kim, took jobs waiting tables at the Paradise Valley Country Club outside Phoenix. Bill Lepper and Thong Truong were working in the kitchen.

"Within a year, we were married," Marty Lepper said. The sisters came back to Steamboat for their weddings.

Both couples have been in the restaurant business their whole working lives, Marty Lepper said. The idea of opening a restaurant that only served breakfast and lunch came with the couples' desire to spend time with their children. They hired local ski instructor Marc Bertrand to manage the bar.

"We moved back to Steamboat to raise our children," Marty Lepper said. "We want our kids to have a sense of community and that is hard in the city.

"I have great memories from growing up here. I was really involved in high school sports and in my church. I thought it would be weird to come home, but it's like I never left."

Marty Lepper hopes that sentiment comes across to customers of the Seasons at the Pond.

"We tried to create a family atmosphere," she said. "Family. That's what Steamboat is all about."

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