The staff of Three Wire Bar and Grill, the new restaurant at Yampa Valley Regional Airport, was busy Wednesday preparing for the its opening Monday.

Photo by Tom Ross

The staff of Three Wire Bar and Grill, the new restaurant at Yampa Valley Regional Airport, was busy Wednesday preparing for the its opening Monday.

New restaurant poised to open at Yampa Valley Regional Airport

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— When Three Wire Bar and Grill opens in a new dining room at Yampa Valley Regional Airport on Monday, Routt County will be in the restaurant business. That’s not exactly what the Routt County Board of Commissioners had in mind in June when Airport Manager Dave Ruppel put out a call for proposals from local restaurant operators.

Ruppel said Monday that he didn’t get any takers when he advertised the opportunity to manage the fully equipped restaurant.

“I probably had the most concerns about what would happen if it can’t survive on its own,” Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. “How far do you go (to keep it in business), and what are the other options?”

Ruppel said he sent out 50 information packets to prospective restaurant operators. He said at least six were seriously interested but ultimately did not seek to finalize a contract. Ruppel also reached out directly to restaurant operators and the county hired longtime Steamboat restaurateur Rex Brice to consult with them on the process.

“I was a little surprised,” Ruppel said. “We had some (restaurateurs) who were seriously interested, but what we found was there is still a little bit of uncertainty with the economy, and they aren’t comfortable extending themselves right now.”

Ruppel said it wasn’t easy for the interested business people to fully understand what it would be like to run a food service operation that had the potential to be very busy with airport travelers 3 1/2 months of the year with significantly less traffic the rest of the year.

Brice said he helped with the design of the restaurant and designed a concept that worked for Three Wire’s location in an airport terminal.

“For example, in addition to sit-down dining, we have a grab-and-go counter for travelers who don’t have time,” Brice said. “We also designed the concept so that you can scale the restaurant operation up and scale it back, (to fit the season.) If you have three food servers and two bartenders in April and May, it isn’t going to work.”

Brice said he isn’t concerned with any appearance that the county now will be competing with the private sector.

“It’s important to our entire community that when travelers come through the airport, we offer them good food service and put our best foot forward. One way or another, this needed to be done. Anyway you look at it, it needs to be successful. And the county has hired good people to run it.”

Ruppel said the county has hired former Freshies restaurant manager Tami Fricault and longtime Steamboat chef Dean Martin to operate the restaurant.

“We have an excellent manager, and we have a well-known, talented and creative chef,” Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Diane Mitsch Bush said.

Fricault and Martin will be full-time benefited employees of the county Human Resources Assistant Georgian Kalow said. Each will make a little more than $38,400 annually plus benefits, and the possibility for a raise after six months. They are eligible for a profit sharing bonus. County meeting minutes reflect that the commissioners asked for lengthy survey of the actual salaries paid to a variety of chefs in branded corporate restaurants before arriving at Martin’s compensation.

Kalow said other county employees of the restaurant will be divided among year-round part-time employees who will work 40 hours per week during ski season and 28 hours per week outside ski season. They will receive life insurance and long-term disability insurance as part of their compensation package. Other employees, with the same job description, will work on a seasonal basis during ski season. Wages for all of those jobs would vary with duties and whether or not they are tipped, Kalow said.

Commissioner Doug Monger said, like Stahoviak, that he would prefer the county not to be in the restaurant business but that it is critical that appealing food service be provided for travelers and visitors to the airport.

Based on the fact the restaurant has been profitable in previous years while operating out of a less attractive dining room on the second level of the airport terminal, Monger expects Three Wire (a reference to the depth of snow on a barbed wire fence in a robust Routt County winter) to succeed.

Fricault said Monday that she managed Freshies for more than six years. Three Wire will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days per week including holidays, she said. The menu will include items that are consistent with a western town, including buffalo burgers and elk sausages with grilled peppers.

“Dean brings his own flair to his entrees,” Fricault said. “He’s been a chef for a long time, including doing the catering for Steamboat Meat & Seafood Co. This will not be your typical airport food. He’ll even put his own twist on a turkey wrap.”

Assistant Airport Manager Dean Smith said Fricault and Martin also will be responsible for the food service for Wayfinder, a snack bar inside the secure waiting area for passengers waiting to board their flights.

“All of the food at Wayfinder will come out of the kitchen at Three Wire,” Smith said. He added that there are four 55-inch television screens in the dining area, and after purchasing NFL Ticket, he can assure travelers they won’t miss out on the professional football playoff race.

Fricault said Three Wire will try to offer Colorado food products and even distilled spirits that are made in the state to its customers.

She had no problem hiring for the front of the restaurant, she said, but still is looking for several cooks to fill out the staff.

Ruppel said he’s excited for the opening of the new restaurant and optimistic that Routt County residents will be drawn to the new dining room.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Scott Wedel 2 years, 5 months ago

Well, the obvious challenge for the County is to manage this restaurant and not allow huge ongoing losses to be revealed only months after the fact.

The City of SS demonstrated how a local government could completely mismanage the Iron Horse business from paying way too much for the property and then failing to collect payments from the operator.

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mark bond 2 years, 5 months ago

Not to be too pessimistic, but do you think there is a reason no private entity wanted anything to do with this operation? One reason might be Ruppel might wake up one morning and arbitrarily decide to just kick you out with no notice like the last operator. But the more likely reason is there is absolutely no practical way to avoid huge losses when you essentially operate 2-3 hours a day for 2-3 months of the year. And that is going to support $70,000 in full time salaries plus the workers? I hope the county put a limit on how much money they allow Ruppel to throw at this experiment before they turn off the spigot!

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 5 months ago

It obviously is expected to lose some money, but the key is how quickly the county commissioners and public are informed of the financial situation.

It may not be so bad for it to lose some money. If SB taxpayers are willing to pay over $10 per passenger into the airport then it is reasonable for the county to subsidize having food service there if the cost is a quarter or less per passenger. But if the cost is running close to a dollar per passenger and the public learns of that in April then it would be the financial incompetence typical of the City of SB.

I think after the City's inept handling of virtually every issue regarding the Iron Horse, that the public has very little patience or tolerance for government competing in private sector businesses.

Oh well, county may have just solved the "issue" of uncontested elections for county offices.

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rhys jones 2 years, 5 months ago

Gonna throw your hat in the ring, Scott? We need the guidance.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 5 months ago

mwb007:

The expulsion of the last propietor was anything but arbitrary. She was in over her head, the product & service were horrendously bad, and she was considerably in arrears with the rent.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 4 months ago

yvb, I think it will take big ongoing losses which the CC is unwilling to stop before there will be public support for a recall.

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sledneck 2 years, 4 months ago

How can the anyone honestly tell themselves THIS is within the domain of government?

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rhys jones 2 years, 4 months ago

Public office in Routt == a blank check.

No restraint, no responsibility, spend it while you can.

If you can't succeed in private life, government is an excellent way to go.

The mere fact they were elected gives carte blanche to the effete elite to waste our money any and every way they can imagine.

Pretty soon they'll want a tax for that too. Since it will be so good for business. Why, without that restaurant, they'll all go to Vail, for the world-famous Eagle County Airport and Eatery. Must stay competitive, you know.

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rhys jones 2 years, 4 months ago

Now I'm watching more sharks than fish, from this very "perch," cruising Main, in a vain attempt to pay for it all. One more reason this fish doesn't drive. Except between perches.

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rhys jones 2 years, 4 months ago

My brother the Super Cop told me of an experiment they did in KC once, where they decreased the presence of marked police cars in one area, kept it the same in another, and increased it in a third. The crime rate actually went DOWN where they decreased a marked presence, and increased where there were more marked cars.

Based on that, this must be a high-crime area. In this town crime is business, and business is good. Come on vacation, leave on probation. And help us pay for our new restaurant.

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rhys jones 2 years, 4 months ago

One last digression and commentary:

Now the streets are quiet -- they all must be over at RCSO, processing intake and getting run through the mill. No wonder they're so nice: In Routt County you are more than a prisoner, you are a customer.

Tip for any drunks still surfing: Now would be a good time to drive home. Less stuff to hit. They're all busy.

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rhys jones 2 years, 4 months ago

yvb -- My report the other night, about the cop running the red light at 11:53, was observed from street level. Last night I stayed in, didn't drink a drop, but this spot overlooks a lot, including much of Hogan's Alley. It's a free-fire zone down there.

I don't know how the money shuffles out, so I wouldn't be surprised if Rex got some DUI money. Drunks are a significant revenue source in this town, so no wonder the effete elite are so down on pot, which is not nearly so lucrative.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 4 months ago

yvb, Actually, I think if you were to ask county finance dept how much was paid to Rex then they'd tell you. I think they'd have to tell you.

I think county would even have to tell you how much county paid to each of Rex's restaurants for food and such if you think that they are going to pay him back by making him their preferred restaurants.

I think they'd also have to say how much was spent on remodeling the restaurant at YVRA.

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rhys jones 2 years, 4 months ago

Scott -- Our elite don't "have to" do anything they don't want to. This is Steamboat. Get over it.

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sedgemo 2 years, 4 months ago

Two questions.

First, why is the City running a restaurant when our guaranteed flights should attract enough business for a private sector entrepreneur? If it's not viable for them it's not viable for us, especially in light of the ongoing question of profitablity for venues like Howelsen Hill. Wouldn't it be more cost effective to offer free soup and sandwiches to provide hospitality... and not compete with area restaurants?

And more importantly, is there an exit strategy? Is there a point at which the restaurant can survive on its own or be sold to the private sector, or is this a "forever" food financing situation? If there is no exit strategy, why not?

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 4 months ago

yvb, It is public records which under Colorado law are open to the public. And it has been my experience that Routt County officials have been quite willing to respond and generally be helpful.

Actually, I think it might confuse them a bit if you said you were from the press because they know all the local press wants is the press release and is not interested in researching deeper into details. Because otherwise the questions you ask would have been in the article, not left for the public to ask.

Because where else in these budgetary times could a reporter been told a consultant was hired to help government without asking what the consultant was paid?

The part I think is wrong is talking about a raise after 6 months. Because if it is doing well enough to consider giving raises then County should instead put out a new request for proposals for it to be privately operated.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 4 months ago

yvb, If you decline to ask the county for this info then please tell me so I can ask them.

Here is the story of the day. There is so much there about free money to the banks that it is hard to decide what is most outrageous. Bank CEOs with close to $100B in secret emergency loans from the Fed claiming they were healthy? Earning $13B on taxpayer provided .01% interest rate loans? At the peak the Fed loaning $7.8 trillion to the banks?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-28/secret-fed-loans-undisclosed-to-congress-gave-banks-13-billion-in-income.html

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 4 months ago

yvb, I know your press comment was a joke. My response was also supposed to be humorous in a cynical way. Mythical county employee: "Interested in YVRA restaurant financial info. I can get that for you. Oh wait, you are from the local press? I know what you are looking for. Here are the press releases."

Well, if no one responded to the rfp then instead of the county operating it themselves then they could have done the free market thing and asked how much they had to pay an operator to provide food service.

Just as with the Fed loaning trillions to "healthy" big banks, the taxpayers assume all the liabilities of potential losses. Maybe county had to act now to be able to have food for winter flights. But it is lunacy to talk about future raises when, if this is a needed service, the plan should be for county to exit and turn it over to private operators. And if it costs money to provide food service then we learn how "essential" it really is.

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rhys jones 2 years, 4 months ago

Yet again, every taxpayer in Routt County is subsidizing commercial enterprise, whether they individually may benefit or not, and this time without a vote or even a survey. Haughty and presumptuous, IMNSHO. Fourth Estate, Government, and the Ivory Tower -- all are immune from the realities of economics. Spend it while you can. Don't worry about later. Full speed ahead. Forget the Chinese, gleefully rubbing their hands in anticipation. They won't be able to touch the $$ the Federal Reserve principals have squirreled away, pending the big crash. The worst is yet to come.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 4 months ago

Actually, county is not subsidizing commercial enterprise. It is operating a commercial enterprise.

And remember, in Routt County it is claimed that everyone benefits from tourism so anything and everything can be justified as being essential. The only government services that are not essential are those that directly benefit residents because residents are not tourists and are thus are not an essential part of the local economy.

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rhys jones 2 years, 4 months ago

Scott -- You are technically correct, spawning another idea: Since we are now going into business, let's Eminent-Domain Ski Corp, including the expensive lockers, so now we have a profitable enterprise in the portfolio. I'll bet the voters would get behind that!!

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sledneck 2 years, 4 months ago

And if Satan casts out Satan he is devided against himself. How shall then his kingdom stand? Matthew 12:26

Ski corp sits on federal government land. City is a lesser form of the same government but government nonetheless.

Therefore, that will never happen.

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rhys jones 2 years, 4 months ago

Ski Corp sits on private property, with a special-use permit to access National Forest.

There ya go, taking me seriously again. And I was gonna invite you, sled, to the party where we all show up at the County Clerk to demand an accounting. Of course, we'd switch name tags, to humor those who wish to remain anonymous. You could've even worn sunglasses. Thanks for the reality shot. Can I count you out?

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rhys jones 2 years, 4 months ago

You guys could take the fun out of a train wreck.

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 4 months ago

Well, wouldn't it be nice if SOMEBODY from the Pilot was reading this (and you know they do) and took it upon their fine self to just go ahead and interview somebody and get this information for us? Hello? Is there anybody in there? Nod if you can hear us ...

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spidermite 2 years, 4 months ago

yvb, scott and hwy., Ask Doug Monger these questions online. If he has nothing to hide, he should answer you. He calls himself "homey".

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sedgemo 2 years, 4 months ago

Erp, my bad. County not City... but as a County taxpayer neither scenario brings happiness, only heartburn.

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sledneck 2 years, 4 months ago

I knew you would say "ski corp isn't on federal land..." Just knew it. Splitting hairs, methinks. That which makes it money IS on federal land. I thought yours was a funny suggestion.

I just wanted to point out that government has no appetite for confiscating its own property, especially when there is still so much it can take from the private sector.

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rhys jones 2 years, 4 months ago

spider -- You are obviously under the mistaken impression I care. I resigned myself years ago to whatever the local elite deemed best for us, since our opinion matters not anyway, only our dollars. I choose to live here regardless, and I hope as Court Jester to raise awareness just a tad, or in the alternative, maybe elicit a chuckle. Take this place too serious, you'll go crazy, we see the evidence right here. RIGHT HERE - ha ha ha.

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rhys jones 2 years, 4 months ago

I was going to say you can't blame the County for the questions the Pilot didn't ask, but I thought that would distract the issue, didn't want to offend the censors, and know they would be selective in their inquiries going in, being the posterboard for the Chamber, Ski Corp, and government anyway. Good luck with the dogs, yvb, and I mean that every way it can be taken. (just kidding, dogs)

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greenwash 2 years, 4 months ago

What a total waste of time....3wire will end up throwing more spoiled food away than they will sell...Guaranteed....This will be nothing but a big LOSER from day one til the day it closes .If Rex was a legitimate consultant he would have advised them NOT to open.

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 4 months ago

Well, let's see ... subtract mileage, some photocopying, a tape measure, two or three nice sharp pencils, a flak jacket ... I'd say the "concept" cost somebody $27,612.93. I like that number, so I think I'll stick with it.

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jerry carlton 2 years, 4 months ago

no wonder my property tax went up 93% in 11 years! Makes the bullet proof vests purchase look like a real bargain!

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the_Lizard 2 years, 4 months ago

So here I am, in a vile mood, filling out the proof of ag questioner. More intrusion, more rules...who builds the fences on our propert for #$%$! sake....all in the name of faiiiirneeeesss and more moooonnnneey so they are able to do things like this. What I'm not understanding, and it may be because I'm in this vile mood and am unable to read clearly but, yvb this is what the Pilot told us in their editorial; "It’s important to note that none of the cost to upgrade the airport — including the construction and operation of the new restaurant — is borne by county taxpayers" None of the construction was paid by the county they say, wouldn't that include the "concept" etc? The employees are employeed by the county but they aren't paid by the county, does that include health and retirement too? It sounded like 3 Wire cost us nothing acording to the Pilot's editorial, yet we have private sleuths telling us otherwise. Again, I may be reading something incorrectly and just need a bit more info. to understand.

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the_Lizard 2 years, 4 months ago

They claim: "YVRA is financially self sufficient, covering all operational costs through airport generated revenues and taking full advantage of Federal and State Aviation grants for major capital projects." so how do they hide this financial stuff under a veil when it is totally self funded and not receiving financing from the county? Major construction costs are covered by the state and feds, they say sooo... I sincerely want to understand and it seems you know much more on the subject than I. BTW, I believe you are telling the truth, but I am not understanding the mechanics of the funding, and the county's role in the "restaurant business" if, as they claim, there is no money involved.

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jerry carlton 2 years, 4 months ago

How would we get term limits reimposed on comish? I got here only 14 years ago but I think term limits were gone then. No one runs against them because it would take a stick of dynamite to get them out of office. I remember only one contested race (against Monger) since I have been here. Well at least Nancy is going to quit running.

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ybul 2 years, 4 months ago

It is easy to spend when it is other peoples money. Wow, just can't imagine the thought process. Guess there isn't the same one with other peoples money the sky is the limit and we will build what we think is needed regardless of cost.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 4 months ago

The justification seems to be a thought process that decided that having a restaurant at the airport is a necessity, not an option.

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 4 months ago

This whole fiasco reminds me of the coffee shop in the library. The plans and money for it were completely hidden and they never intended to put it out for bids from private businesses. Directly in competition with two coffee shops only a couple of blocks away and a few others not much farther! I heard that when some of the people who helped with the fundraising found out they had been hoodwinked, they hired a lawyer to check into the matter. I believe a letter was sent to the powers-that-be and then, and only then, were bids sought. I think somebody in our local government is just itchin' to be in the food service industry and, personally, I think they might be better suited to it.

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 4 months ago

I've been out of town for awhile. How's that library coffee shop doing, anyway?

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ybul 2 years, 4 months ago

So here's a question. If the airport is here primarily to bring in tourists and is making $500,000 a year for the county should not those funds gone first and foremost to support the air program as opposed to a tax?

Seems to me that the airport should be a break even game to keep the costs for the airlines down to support air traffic into the airport. It should not be a huge money maker for the county as the big reason to be here is to support the tourism industry.

If they were looking for a million a year to support more air traffic then they had half of it already being made at the airport itself.

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jerry carlton 2 years, 4 months ago

Yes but now they have the half million and the residents of Steamboat Springs voted another sales tax that virtualy everyone in the county has to pay even though we do not get to vote on it. Keep sending the government money! They will find ways to spend it!

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