Updated February 21, 2007 at 9:54 a.m.
Steamboat Springs 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 firstname.lastname@example.org