Steamboat Springs Black Mountain Tavern will shut its doors at the end of July, owner Dan Bubenheim said, after a poor economic recovery made it infeasible to keep open.
Medical marijuana dispensary owner Jacob Wise is looking to take over the restaurant at 202 Sharp Ave. in Oak Creek and use it as a growing space.
Bubenheim and Doug Diamond started the Black Mountain Tavern in 2003 and have taken turns running the business together or separately since. Bubenheim had been the sole owner since August, when Diamond sold it to him because it was not making money.
At the time, Bubenheim was optimistic that an economic recovery could help buoy the restaurant, but he’s since found that it was not possible to stay afloat.
“Everything snowballed on me out there, whereas I kept thinking, ‘Well, summer’s coming, I’m going to be able to catch up and pay this off,’” he said.
Instead, he started falling behind on payments to the Internal Revenue Service and, a couple of weeks ago, shut down the restaurant portion of the business leaving only the bar operational from 2 p.m. to close.
He said Oak Creek was initially a great place to open a business because of the low rental costs.
“You know, Oak Creek’s a cheap place for a dream to come true because leases are cheap; it’s not like Steamboat,” he said. “It’s an easy place for someone to go to fulfill their dream, like I did, and that seems to be the case out there, everybody’s trying to do something.”
Bubenheim said the large number of restaurants operating in Oak Creek created a difficult business environment.
“You’ve got five people sitting in 12 different restaurants, instead of 50 people sitting in one,” he said.
Bubenheim is a certified chef with training from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. Along with running Black Mountain Tavern, he has been working as the restaurant manager at Steamboat Lake Outfitters, a position he said he would retain.
He said he had 13 employees five years ago but is down to two.
“I apologize to the town for it, but I know it’s not their fault,” Bubenheim said. “I just feel really bad about the employees that I had, for the town in general. It was a great hangout spot.”
Oak Creek Town Clerk Karen Halterman said Wise’s application to use the space will go before the Oak Creek Planning Commission on July 21 and to the Oak Creek Town Board July 22.
A new state regulation stipulates that dispensaries must produce a certain amount of their own marijuana.