Steamboat Springs After five years of pizzas, sandwiches and beer, today will be the last day Doug Diamond can call himself owner of Black Mountain Tavern.
Diamond, who has owned or co-owned the Oak Creek restaurant since it opened, has played his hand as restaurateur, and now he said it's time for him to move on.
"It's like poker. When you can't ante up, you can't play any more," he said.
Diamond said Friday that he sold the business and that it likely would continue under the same name. He said he did not want to name the buyer.
Diamond said the economic downturn has hit his business hard since November.
"From Thanksgiving on, it was rough, rough, rough," he said. He was forced to turn off his pizza ovens to save gas and stopped offering lunch.
"It came down to cash flow," he said.
In the past months, Diamond said, the recession has lifted slightly, but not enough to keep him afloat.
"I'm starting to run out of money," he said. "There is an upturn that is starting to go on, but I'm not going to be able to last it out."
He laughingly said the slow leak of money is "kind of like drowning."
Diamond said he is in "eleventh-hour" conversations with a potential buyer, who may continue to operate Black Mountain. Diamond opened the restaurant with then-co-owner Dan Bubenheim. Diamond is now the sole owner.
"I want the restaurant to keep going," he said.
Diamond said the restaurant is a part of the community, with a reciprocal relationship that benefited the people of South Routt and the business.
"The people of South Routt really, really took care of us. They're great people. I have no animosity," he said. "I just got caught."
Judy Deming, former owner of Judy's Country Donuts and Bakery, said she has seen restaurants in Oak Creek hurt as the economy turned sour.
"I've seen a tough time for the community, as far as restaurants like that, but there are a lot of restaurants in Oak Creek, and they're all struggling right now," she said. "I think a lot of it has to do with the economy. People just don't have that kind of money."
Deming said she knew Black Mountain was suffering and that it's sad to have Diamond leave.
"I hate seeing it. It's kind of a bummer," she said.
Diamond said the support of South Routt residents allowed the restaurant to stay open as long as it has.
During that time, Diamond estimates the restaurant has donated more than $3,000 to the Soroco High School art department through the sale of art from the restaurant walls. The restaurant took 10 percent of each sale and then asked artists whether they would be willing to donate another 10 percent to the art program.
Diamond said he also was pleased to take part in several fundraising efforts for people in need by providing donations or helping to raise funds.
"To live in a small community like this and have everybody pull together when somebody's in trouble, that's beautiful," he said.
Diamond said he likely would continue to work with the restaurant in some fashion for the next couple of months, dissolving his company and possibly helping new owners in a transition.
"I love this town, and I love the people. It's been a wonderful, wonderful experience," he said.