Old Town Pub owner Kurt Vordermeier wasn’t complaining about the extra business Friday as a result of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Several downtown Steamboat Springs restaurants reported a busy afternoon.
Downtown Steamboat businesses pleased with crowds
Restaurants report busy afternoon, not so much at retail stores
Steamboat Springs With a full bar and dining room nearly at capacity early Friday afternoon, Old Town Pub general manager Kurt Vordermeier wasn’t complaining about the extra business as a result of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
Neither were some other local restaurant managers who reaped the benefits from an estimated 10,000 visitors in Steamboat Springs for the professional cycling race. Many reported having busier afternoons and looked forward to the dinner rush.
Old Town Pub may have had a leg up given its position next to the finish line on Lincoln Avenue.
“Compared to a Friday in late August, this is thumbs-up for sure,” Vordermeier said. “We’re not competing with the outside seating and the decks today. I suspect as the afternoon goes on, we’ll get busier. Everybody who comes in and we’re talking to is in town for the race.”
Reactions were more mixed from retail store owners.
Allen’s Clothing owner Tod Allen said he didn’t see much business as a result of the Pro Cycling Challenge, but he didn’t seem to mind.
“I just think there’s a lot going on,” he said. “When the event’s over, maybe people will end up in the store. It doesn’t matter. It’s just great.”
Steamboat Treasures & Tees owner Leon Rinck said his afternoon business was OK, and like Allen, he was optimistic for more evening traffic and a busy day Saturday.
The event is “great, not just for me, but all the other businesses,” Rinck said. “Compared to what we’d normally have this weekend, it’s fantastic. I support it 110 percent. This is good for Steamboat in general.”
The residents and visitors downtown Friday afternoon had plenty to do until the nearly 130 riders rode into downtown shortly before 4 p.m. The Lifestyle Expo and Sierra Nevada Beer Garden featured more than 60 vendors, including about 25 local businesses and organizations. There also was a kids zone with a variety of activities for children.
While many downtown businesses saw more traffic because of the crowds, Freshies restaurant owner Scott Fox said his eatery didn’t have a great afternoon. The eastbound lanes of U.S. Highway 40 were closed to traffic from 11:45 a.m. to about 4 p.m. for the U.S. Paracycling Challenge hand-cycling races and the Pro Cycling Challenge route into downtown.
“We had a nice busy breakfast, cranking breakfasts, but it was tough to get to Freshies for lunch,” Fox said. “But you know what, it was OK. It was such a great thing for the community. That bike race was awesome.”
Colorado Office of Tourism Director Al White said this week that he estimated the Pro Cycling Challenge would bring $50 million to $70 million in direct economic benefit statewide. But he said the real benefit of hosting the Pro Cycling Challenge was the number of new tourists it would attract to Colorado because of the national and international broadcast of the race on Versus and NBC.
The Pro Cycling Challenge already has attracted some new visitors.
George and Lesa Bushfield, of Dallas, were walking in and out of downtown businesses before the cyclists rode into town. George Bushfield said they joined the tour in Vail and planned to follow it to the finish Sunday in Denver.
“We’re just seeing the sights and checking out the bike race,” he said. “That’s why we’re here. It’s our first time in Colorado, and we like it.”
Several downtown businesses had said they would extend their hours or add additional staff to meet what they hoped would be a busy weekend.
The Shack Cafe even extended its 2 p.m. close to 5 p.m. in anticipation of additional business. Manager Mary Davies said the morning was busier than normal but the lunch hour was quiet. But Davies said they were optimistic for the rest of the afternoon.
“With all the crowds out there, we hope they want a bite to eat, something to drink or just to come inside and cool off,” she said. “It’s an exciting event. I hope they do it again.”
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com