A juicy burger from Rex's American Grill & Bar waits to be devoured during the lunch hour at the restaurant in Steamboat Springs on Thursday afternoon. The owner of Rex's, Rex Brice, will open a burger restaurant where Lucile's Creole Cafe is located on the west side of town.

Photo by Brian Ray

A juicy burger from Rex's American Grill & Bar waits to be devoured during the lunch hour at the restaurant in Steamboat Springs on Thursday afternoon. The owner of Rex's, Rex Brice, will open a burger restaurant where Lucile's Creole Cafe is located on the west side of town.

Lucile's closing doors

Restaurant from owner of Rex's to replace Cajun-style eatery

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Lucile's Creole Cafe on the west side of Steamboat Springs soon will be replaced by a burger restaurant owned by Rex Brice. Brice currently owns Mazzola's and Rex's American Grill & Bar.

— Rex Brice is coming to the west end of Steamboat Springs, and he's bringing burgers with him.

The owner of Mazzola's Italian Restaurant and Rex's American Grill & Bar will take over the spot now occupied by Lucile's in Elk River Crossing. He plans to remodel and turn the Cajun-style restaurant into a laid-back establishment focusing on hamburgers.

"I think the west end of town is in need of a casual-themed restaurant that serves lunch and dinner," Brice said. "With the growth that's going on out there, I just think there's an opportunity for a restaurant to succeed - if it's the right restaurant."

Lucile's was scheduled to open for the last time at 8 a.m. today, but plans may have changed after press time. Brice plans to start remodeling this week and said the new restaurant should open in June. He hasn't picked a name for it yet.

Mary Wolf, who came from the Fort Collins Lucile's to run operations here, said the location in Steamboat wasn't right for the restaurant.

"It's not a good place for this end of town," Wolf said, adding that a restaurant that serves dinner should do better. Lucile's is open for only breakfast and lunch.

"Our hours didn't meet the needs of the community," Wolf said.

Lucile's has been in the spot since 2002. Wolf said she joined the crew in fall 2006 to help restructure the restaurant. Owner Dave Papini lives outside of Colorado part of the time, Wolf said, adding that having an off-site owner makes running a restaurant more challenging.

Wolf said she was told to get the restaurant to a place where it was sellable.

"That's exactly what I did," she said.

Papini, who owns the shopping center and the restaurant, is leasing the site to Brice. He said they had been working on the deal for the past three or four months. Lucile's wasn't the right fit for the area, Papini said.

"I don't know if the demographics were quite ready for an all-Cajun restaurant : but I think the food was good," Papini said. "I think it got off on the wrong foot when it opened up."

He said part of the problem was that Lucile's never became an "in" place to eat breakfast.

In addition to the Steamboat and Fort Collins locations, there are Lucile's restaurants in Boulder, Denver and Longmont.

Wolf said she isn't bitter about Lucile's closing and thinks Brice has the right idea for the spot.

"I'm happy with Rex's concept," she said. "It's good for the community, for myself, for the owner and for Lucile's."

Word of mouth

Brice said the new restaurant would aim to serve mostly locals rather than tourists. He said he's shooting for a check average of less than $15, which he said is tough to find at dinner restaurants in Steamboat. He said burgers would start at $5 to $6.

In addition to burgers, the restaurant will offer other sandwiches on buns, soups and salads, Brice said. Milkshakes and onion rings also will be on the menu.

"I've told some people that the restaurant will be sort of a casual version of Rex's," he said. "I think what's going to be important is the price point, the speed of service and the convenience."

One concern, however, is the tricky location. Lucile's is tucked near the Kum & Go off U.S. Highway 40 and is difficult to see from the main road, particularly when snow is piled high. Brice said he thinks residents will get there with no problem.

"Once they find us, word will get out, and people will make their way over there," he said. "Most people coming to us will know what we're doing."

Brice's upgrades to the restaurant will include fixing up the inside and adding TVs, he said. It won't quite be a sports bar, he said, but visitors will be able to grab a beer and watch the game.

Wolf, Brice and Papini said they think growth on the western side of Steamboat will benefit the incoming restaurant. Wolf and Papini cited Brice's success with Rex's and Mazzola's as reasons for their confidence in his new venture.

"I think it's going to be dynamite," Papini said. "It's a wonderful location there. I refer to that part of town at this point as the blue-collar section, and his concept should be perfect for it. Lots of people out there need places to eat and don't want to have to drive downtown or to the other side of town."

Comments

steamvent 6 years, 4 months ago

elk2 ... Then I guess that means you won't be moving to Oak Creek any time soon.

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6624sw 6 years, 4 months ago

This is certainly no surprise. While Lucile's had great food, it was the worst service of anywhere in town and this was the case from the very beginning.

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elk2 6 years, 4 months ago

"I refer to that part of town at this point as the blue-collar section". What a bunch of elitist crap!!! Thanks Papini for your thoughtful insight.

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hubiem 6 years, 4 months ago

i don't know how any restaurant on that end of town makes it. most of the tourist crowd stops downtown to eat. tourist traffic is probably the bulk of most steamboat restaurant's business. not many people venture that far west. pisa's probably only makes it because they deliver.

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Malcolm_Reynolds 6 years, 4 months ago

I loved Lucile's, but their hours did not fit my schedule.

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bolter 6 years, 4 months ago

A great idea. The Justice Center brought a huge influx of employees whose choices for lunch were Subway or Pisas. This is in walking distance and should be fast and affordable. There is always room for a good restaurant and Rex will succeed here. Good idea.

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MtnWarlock 6 years, 4 months ago

Maybe a Denny's at that location would work! 24/7 breakfast, lunch and dinner! Blue collar workers love Denny's! Why? Because the snobs won't set foot in a Denny's to stink it up! LOL! Country Buffet is another good "blue collar" choice! It's great being blue collar! We eat well! Have a good one!

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untamedShrewd 6 years, 4 months ago

I was happy when a Lucile's came to Steamboat. It's too bad it didn't work out. Lucile's always good in Longmont and Boulder. But the food and service here was almost always lame. Then the prices went up. I look forward to Rex's.

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spukomy 6 years, 4 months ago

Go Rex. He touches it and it turns to gold. Hope he got a long term lease. West end developement will fuel his sales eventually. And he'll have established a local core clientel by then.

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beagle 6 years, 4 months ago

I loved Lucile's! We never had anything but great food and service there.

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Ed Miklus 6 years, 4 months ago

Sorry to see Lucile's go; tough location for it at The Curve. I thought the breakfasts were great. I always enjoyed chatting with Mary Wolf; she is a most interesting person. Good luck to Rex; he does such a great job with his other places.

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green77 6 years, 4 months ago

Good bye Lucile's, to bad they had terrible service, because I liked the food.

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ForeverAnOutsider 6 years, 4 months ago

Hey Papini, maybe you should explain your "blue collar" theory to all the folks at Marabou....

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weallnutz 6 years, 4 months ago

this restaurant is a great idea....hey just a suggestion, have a bar with happy hour...you are within walking distance of the Sheriff's office after all.

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sickofitall 6 years, 4 months ago

it was also like $6-7$ for a bowl of oatmeal, lol OVERPRICED

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hubiem 6 years, 4 months ago

pisa's has the best pizza in town. when a tourist asks me where the best pizza is i tell them pisa's. then they ask if the deliver. i say just to ski haus. then they ask me for the second best pizza in town. these places would do fine if they wouldn't open up shop on the west end of town.

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ColoradoNative 6 years, 4 months ago

Hubiem. With all do respect do you live under a trailer downtown?

There is more to the Yampa Valley then the few blocks of downtown.

Rex's on the west side of town makes sense. I hope they do plan on focusing on the locals. If so it will be a success.

Contrary to what Hubiem thinks there are THOUSANDS of daily trips from Craig, Hayden, North Routt that will stop in to the new joint if given a reason to and especially if given a reason to come back.

I think many of the restaurants in town are fine with chasing the quick buck wherever it comes from. They forget it's the locals who they need for cash flow between seasons.

Lucile's was ok but even the owner agreed they didn't fit the location.

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bloggyblog 6 years, 4 months ago

blog thinks west side rex's is gonna do great. just look at that burger!!

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hubiem 6 years, 4 months ago

coloradonative,

"Lucile's was ok but even the owner agreed they didn't fit the location."

you just made my point. why open up a restaurant on the west end of town if it doesn't "fit the location." if lucile's was on the east end of town, or downtown they would pick up a lot of tourist business. as it is they just got a few locals each morning. when you open a business in a tourist based economy, you had better plan on attracting at least some of the tourists to your business. would the ski area survive on local traffic alone? no. most other businesses in the yampa valley wouldn't survive either without the direct or indirect spending from tourists. the restaurants here are affected more directly than indirectly from tourist spending. the restaurant businesses here live and die by the tourist dollar. go into any restaurant downtown during the winter or summer and count how many tables are tourists and how many are locals, then you'll see where the restaurants make their money. there is a reason that a lot of these places close for mud season, the locals aren't spending enough money to keep them afloat. the places that do stay open, are probably just breaking even.

so what kind of restaurant does "fit the location" on the west end of town? evidently not a cajun breakfast place. if pisa's is for sale, then evidently not an italian place. since the fast food chicken place went under then i guess that isn't a fit either. maybe a sandwich shop out by grease monkey, no someone else tried that already too. i hop that rex can make a burger place work, but i have a feeling that it will suffer the same fate as every other restaurant on the west end of town. not enough local traffic to offset the lack of tourist dollars.

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ColoradoNative 6 years, 4 months ago

Hubiem. Just be grateful you have entrepreneurs around you to take chances and provide services for you.

I'm sure the early settlers who left the east coast were told they wouldn't make it out west also.

My gut says Hubiem will be enjoying a cold beer and a cheap burger at Rex's bar when downtown is flooded with screaming teenagers wearing baseball caps this summer.

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hubiem 6 years, 4 months ago

i am grateful to have services provided to me. i support those businesses that give me good food and service. i order pisa's pizza all the time, and am perfectly willing to drive to meet the delivery guy at ski haus. i bought chicken at the chicken place that went under. when i go out for breakfast, i go to lucile's more than any other breakfast place in town. i bought countless sandwiches from the guy beside grease monkey too, and i probably will be trying a burger at rex's westside locale too. i never once said that i wouldn't support this business.

i'm just questioning the business owner's decision to open up a restaurant on the west side of town. i'm just looking at the track record for restaurants there. so far nobody has been able to do enough business from local support to stay afloat. restaurants here need the tourist traffic.

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OnTheBusGus 6 years, 4 months ago

Didn't the Merchant of Sandwich close for personal reasons, not because he was "going under"? Pisa's was great, then it changed ownership and I felt that it was not so good, plus the price went up and I didn't feel it was a good value any longer so I stopped going there. The chicken place was good but overpriced and KFC came to the Taco Bell location shortly after it opened. However, the Subway is doing well. Ever been in there during lunch? Place is packed and the line is long but the workers seem to move every one along quite well!I work on the west side most of the year so my co-workers and I dine on that side of town frequently. We ate at Lucile's once and never went back. Poor service and few in our group were interested in cajun food. I think the west side Rex's or whatever it is called will do good and I can't wait to dine there!

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BoatMaster 6 years, 4 months ago

I think the Merchant of Sandwich said he closed when Subway opened up and his business dropped below a acceptable leve.

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