Chelsea's closes in Steamboat

Lincoln Avenue Chinese restaurant lasted just eight months



Chelsea's Restaurant on Lincoln Avenue in Steamboat Springs closed unexpectedly after eight months in business.

— The owners of Chelsea's closed their Steamboat Springs restaurant Tuesday.

The doors of the Chinese restaurant at 345 Lincoln Ave. were locked after lunch, and a voice on the telephone answering machine said, "We regret to inform you that Chelsea's is closed due to unforeseen circumstances."

The Steamboat restaurant was open just eight months. It closed three months after owners Andy and Jaila Benjamin closed the Chelsea's on Main Street in Oak Creek. The Oak Creek Chelsea's had operated for 26 years.

Andy Benjamin said he was "incredibly disappointed" in the Steamboat restaurant's closure but could not say anything else. He said the restaurant employed about 20 people.

"I can't comment now," he said, "but I'm sure there will come a time here pretty soon when I can talk."

A property search on the Routt County Web site showed the Benjamins own the restaurant equipment, but the property is owned by Old House Lane Corp. Michael Craig-Scheckman is the registered agent for Old House Lane.

The Benjamins have owned Chelsea's for four years. During most of that time, they operated just the restaurant in Oak Creek. The couple purchased the longtime South Routt business from Dave Epstein in January 2003. Epstein had closed the restaurant in August 2002.

Last year, the Benjamins decided to open a Steamboat Chelsea's in a site that most recently housed the Tobiano restaurant.

At the time of the Steamboat restaurant's opening last summer, some Oak Creek residents worried the Oak Creek location was doomed. But the Benjamins said the Steamboat restaurant actually would help keep the Oak Creek restaurant open.

"We're set on keeping this longstanding icon in the Yampa Valley," Jaila Benjamin said at the time. "Everyone knows Chelsea's. Everyone has a story. People are always telling me what their favorite foods are or what a good time they had at dinner the night before."

But in November, the Benjamins closed the Oak Creek location, citing the difficulties in operating two restaurants.

"We would very much like to keep (the Oak Creek restaurant) open," Jaila Benjamin said in January. "But in order to keep a South Routt business open, South Routt residents need to support it and all of our businesses. It needs to be more than just saying you like it. People need to spend their money there."

Jaila Benjamin said then that the Steamboat Chelsea's was "doing great."

Asked Tuesday if there was any chance Chelsea's would re-open, Andy Benjamin said, "no comment."

- Alexis DeLaCruz contributed to this story. Call Scott Stanford at 871-4221or e-mail


SteamboatJoe 10 years, 2 months ago

I had terrible service on 2 occasions and stopped going there.


Scott Stanford 10 years, 2 months ago

Fourseasons is correct. The restaurant equipment and other personal property in the space belongs to the Benjamins but the site is owned by Old House Lane Corp., a corporation formed in 2004 by Michael Craig-Scheckman. The story has been corrected and a correction will appear in Thursday's Steamboat Today.

Scott Stanford Editor, Steamboat Pilot & Today (970) 871-4221


BrainQuest 10 years, 2 months ago

When the Benjamin's opened the Chelsea's Steamboat restaurant, they reassurred everyone that the Oak Creek location would remain open. Shortly thereafter, they shut down the Oak Creek location-- the locals in South Routt were blamed for not supporting it by dining out there. We had friends in from out of town (8 in our party)--we ate at the Oak Creek location and were sorely disappointed by the service as well as the quality of our food--it wasn't up to the former standards we knew as Chelsea's food and atmosphere. We gave them another chance...the food/service/atmosphere was even we stopped eating there! Others in South Routt most likely followed suit. We live in South Routt and we tried to support this business, but they didn't support us back. So Benjamin's, you got what you deserved! Claudia (the original owner) knew how to make it work--she put in more than she took out--not took out more than she put in!!


cantstandit 10 years, 2 months ago

They don't take credit cards also. Imagine driving from Steamboat and only having the means to pay via credit!!!!!!

I know most bank's nickle and dime but come on Andy!!!!!!!!!!!


Matthew Stoddard 10 years, 2 months ago

Boo & Cant- For at least the last year when I've gone down to OC, Chelsea's hasn't taken credit cards. As for the fees for credit cards, depending on the CC company, the business pays anywhere from 3.5% to 4% or so on every transaction. Pretty decent sized fee.


Matthew Stoddard 10 years, 2 months ago

I personally loved the OC locale and didn't mind the drive down there. Up here, Canton is always a great spot that I like & I love Jade Summit. Best priced meal no the mountain!


goldilocks 10 years, 2 months ago

I ate at Chelsea's in OC 10 yrs ago and it was GREAT. However, my husband, who has been around here for abour 8 yrs, tried numerous times to eat at Chelsea's particularly during hunting season, and they were not once open, even when the hours said they would be. Chinese food in Steamboat has been a rocky road. I have gotten sick every time I have eaten at Panda for the past 5 years. The Canton was the best when Mae Wa (sp?) owed it, but since then, I have been very disappointed with the food. And for you long-time locals, we miss the Cove! It was the best by far. I was excited to see a Chelsea's downtown, but they were pretty pricey. A good, decent priced restaurant that doesn't get people sick would do well.


kingsride 10 years, 2 months ago

For whatever reason its closing I feel bad for the benjamins. Im sure they poured their heart and soul into the business as well as alot of financial resources. God bless them, I wish them well.


Gladys 10 years, 2 months ago

The Ocean Pearl in Craig is by far the best Chinese around...well worth the drive. The place is immacluate at all times and the owners/help are always friendly. Service is almost instant and the food always excellent.


goldilocks 10 years, 2 months ago

thanks Gladys. I have heard that from quite a few different people. Time to make the drive to Craig I guess.


sbspowderhound 10 years, 2 months ago

The Benjamins are GREAT people!
I am sure what is happening is the best for their family (which is all that matters)

I have never had a bad meal or bad service at either of their restaurants...but I am pretty laid back and it takes really bad service and really bad food to upset me.

As for credit cards...not every place in the world takes them. As a business owner I know that the % the cc companies take adds up. People should not be so presumptuous....nor judge a place based on whether or not they take credit cards


Scott Wedel 10 years, 2 months ago

No Oak Creek restaurant has operated for long without the owners working long hours.. And even then most do not last long. I think longest under same ownership is the Colorado for almost 7 years with J and Becky. And those two each have to average at least 80 hours a week working there.

It is odd to close the SB restaurant during the middle of peak season. And with Andy being unable to go into details, sounds like there is a legal dispute more than having no money and giving up.


steamliving 10 years, 2 months ago

Numerous Chelsea's stickers have appeared on lift towers, trail signs and Gondola cars over the past weeks. This is a poor attempt to get free advertising for the restaurant. After seeing more than three stickers on two runs- I immediately decided to never go back to the Steamboat location. Come on- the stickers look awful! I hope the mountain makes the owners personally remove all their propaganda.


oofcboy 10 years, 2 months ago

the hoggie with fries w/sde of ranch @zz left overs even better, price is great seeing how you can eat for 2 days on one order


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