Tom Ross' column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Rehder estate gifts building rehab money
The city of Steamboat Springs has received a gift of $75,000 from the estate of Helen Rehder and will apply it to the rehabilitation of the First National Bank/Rehder Building that houses the Steamboat Art Museum.
Phase 1 rehabilitation is under way with masonry and window restoration. Phase 2 will include timber roof truss reinforcement.
Antares restaurant is to the rear of the bank building.
Museum officials have talked informally with the city about occupying the space the restaurant began vacating this week, but nothing is in place, according to city officials.
You're not likely to see a fine dining restaurant like Antares in Steamboat ever again. How often do you find a rustic former farm implement repair shop with native stone masonry and a commercial kitchen for lease? In a ski town!
Say so long and farewell to "Tournedos LeBrun"; Chef Rocky is hanging up his apron, at least for the winter. In fact, Paul "Rocky" LeBrun was there at 57 1/2 Eighth St. in his chef's whites Monday morning, prying the antique phone booth off the wall and unbolting the bar.
LeBrun and partner Diane Zahradnik are definitely issuing last call at Antares after a good run of 15 years.
Somebody call Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman and tell them no more Thai chili prawns. While you're at it, break the news to Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and Bill "The Life Aquatic" Murray.
"It's sad, but it's a new chapter," Zahradnik said. "We definitely enjoyed our stay here. We've had a great time. The Rehders were good to us, and the city's been fine to us since they've owned it."
The future of Antares made news late in 2008 when the city of Steamboat Springs assumed ownership of the 1905 Rehder building. It holds a place on the National Historic Register and is currently under repair.
Antares had enjoyed favorable lease terms of $9.13 per square foot per year ($2,738 per month), and when then Interim City Manager Wendy DuBord proposed raising the rent to $15 per square foot (still below market rate), Zahradnik said the restaurant would not stay beyond Sept. 30, 2009.
City Council relented and offered to let Antares remain in place under its current terms by renewing the lease for six months before Oct. 1. But there has been miscommunication on both sides, and after a disappointing ski season and an even worse summer, LeBrun and Zahradnik no longer see the point in prolonging things.
LeBrun said he hadn't been offered a new lease, but he added that a six-month extension didn't do much for him. DuBord said the city sent the lease with a letter in January.
"I assumed it had been signed," she said Monday. "Shame on us for not following up more closely, but we got in touch with them last week and offered again to extend it through ski season."
Too late. The die is cast.
"We talked about it," LeBrun said. "It was kind of up in the air. We don't owe any money. We started running the numbers a couple of weeks ago, and we said, 'That's it, we're closing.' It's just another chapter in my life. There's no emotion in it."
Zahradnik said she doesn't imagine she'll own another restaurant, but she can see herself keeping the books for another restaurateur.
LeBrun may find himself in a restaurant kitchen in this town again, but first he plans to take the winter to spend more time with his wife and children. He'll probably prepare the port shallot sauce that made his version of tournedos unforgettable. But it won't be the same.
"Maybe it's time," LeBrun said. "It'll never be like it was."
In its heyday, Antares was staffed on a jumping night in ski season with five food servers, two bussers, two hosts, two bartenders and a crew of seven in the kitchen.
Annie Kavanaugh, who waited tables there off and on for 15 years, said even though she saw it coming, the end took her by surprise.
"We've had it hanging over us," Kavanaugh said. "By the same token, it wasn't real. We're still trying to fathom it. It's a great loss. I couldn't have talked to you about it last week."
Before there was Antares, there was Gorky Park and before that, beginning in 1972, there was the legendary Brandywine.
A generation of hard-charging mogul skiers lived the high life and stored a lot of memories at the old Brandywine. But they say all things must pass.
Before the Brandywine opened at 57 1/2 Eighth St., Boggs Hardware repaired farm tractors and hay balers in the historic building in downtown Steamboat Springs.