South Routt County resident Kathy Foos plans to have a grand opening for The Royal Cafe in Yampa, featuring a prime rib special Saturday.

Photo by Matt Stensland

South Routt County resident Kathy Foos plans to have a grand opening for The Royal Cafe in Yampa, featuring a prime rib special Saturday.

Roosevelt and Rufus collide in reopening of Yampa eatery

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— Menu items with names like "Roosevelt" and "Rufus" have Royal Cafe owner Kathy Foos hoping she can cash in on local lore.

Foos is reopening the Royal Cafe in the historical Royal Hotel in Yampa. A grand opening is set for Saturday.

The cafe's porterhouse steak carries the name of former President Teddy Roosevelt, who is said to have visited the Yampa area to hunt. It's also rumored that he helped get the Royal Hotel built, Foos said.

The "Rufus," a 10-oz. T-bone, is named after the Royal Hotel's resident ghost.

Foos began working at the Royal Hotel in November, and the next month co-owner Bill Ager gave her the go-ahead to reopen the hotel's restaurant. A longtime South Routt resident, Foos has worked at her share of restaurants throughout the years, and she will do all the restaurant's baking from scratch, including a rich potato bread made with plenty of butter and mashed potatoes.

"Ranchers, they love my cooking," Foos said.

The former Flat Tops Restaurant stopped serving food about two years ago, although the adjacent bar continued to use the kitchen to make pizza, chili and a few other bar food items, Foos said.

Foos and her employees bustled around the cafe Tuesday, trying to get everything ready for soft openings Thursday and Friday nights.

"Clean, clean, clean," Shari Morris said, washing the restaurant's blue-handled silverware for its first diners.

Getting the restaurant ready for business has involved everything from sprucing up the space to acting as Foos' menu "sounding board," Morris said.

The Royal Cafe will serve breakfast all day, with hearty favorites like omelettes, chicken fried steak, biscuits and gravy, and breakfast sandwiches. Lunch and dinner offerings will include a full range of steak and chicken options, fried favorites like chicken fingers and fish and chips, entree salads, and sandwiches filled with everything from grilled vegetables to Foos' own take on cheese steak. She uses Ken Montgomery's fresh Italian sausage, grilled peppers and onions, Swiss cheese and marinara sauce on a homemade French roll.

Desserts and deli sandwiches on the go also will be available.

Diners can choose the meat in their hamburger from Yampa Valley Beef's all-natural, locally raised and processed products, or beef from Montgomery's General Merchandise, which is ground fresh daily. Foos' son and family friends will be her grillers and potato peelers; she said none of her fries or hash browns will "come out of a bag."

"Everything's going to be really fresh and totally from scratch," Foos said.

Foos revamped the cafe with a fresh coat of green paint and new equipment, some purchased from the former Weston's Country Corner. The gas station was converted to a Kum & Go last year, and its restaurant space is due to eventually reopen as a Subway.

Foos planned to open the cafe in time for New Year's Eve, but the schedule got pushed back after a fall while hanging Christmas decorations left her with a broken rib and a punctured lung.

"I worked in a lot restaurants, but putting one together and figuring everything out to start was new," Foos said. "I figure while I'm rearranging everything in my life, I might as well start this, too."

Regular hours at The Royal Cafe will be 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 4:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

- To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203 or e-mail mdudley@steamboatpilot.com

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