Our View: It sure beats a snack box

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Editorial Board, Sept. 25, 2011, to January 2012

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter

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It’s unfortunate Yampa Valley Regional Airport was unable to find a private operator for its new eatery, but airport and county officials ultimately did what was in the best interest of the community by hiring staff to run the restaurant.

The Three Wire Bar and Grill opened Monday in the main terminal at YVRA. The new restaurant is the result of Phase 3 of improvements at YVRA, the latest in a decade’s worth of expansion and remodeling at the Hayden airport that provides commercial airline service to Routt County.

Food service has long been an issue at YVRA, culminating with last year’s forced closure of a previous concessionaire because of failure to pay rent. The airport, which is operated by Routt County, struggled to find an immediate replacement before eventually using a Hayden caterer to operate food stands in both the secure and non-secure areas of the airport.

The completion of Three Wire Bar and Grill gives travelers their best eating option ever at YVRA. And with the operators of the restaurant — longtime local chef Dean Martin and former Freshies manager Tami Fricault — also staffing and stocking the airport’s secure-area food stand, Airport Manager Dave Ruppel said outbound travelers always will have food service available to them. That’s more important than many might think. The airport experience is often the first and last impression visitors have of their trip to Steamboat Springs. After tens of millions of dollars in improvements to YVRA in recent years, it would be illogical to stop short of providing decent food service in what otherwise has become a very good resort community airport.

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. Yampa Valley Regional Airport, although operated by Routt County, is a self-sufficient facility that doesn’t draw from the county’s general fund. Its revenues from landing fees, vendor contracts, in-airport advertising and other sources are enough to cover expenses, and the airport pays about $500,000 per year into the county’s general fund to help cover administrative expenses, Ruppel said.

Martin, Fricault and other airport restaurant workers are county employees, but their salaries will be paid from Ruppel’s airport budget. Ruppel is optimistic the new restaurant will be profitable. He said an annual review of the restaurant’s success, or lack thereof, will enable airport officials and the county to head in a different direction if need be.

We share Ruppel’s optimism, and we’re thrilled that YVRA has a full-functioning restaurant that will make for a more pleasurable travel experience for airport users. And if Martin and Fricault are able to turn a profit out of the facility, any concerns about the lack of a private operator should be completely alleviated.

Comments

Scott Wedel 2 years, 10 months ago

The free market solution would be if no one wanted to operate the restaurant on the terms that were offered to then offer more generous terms which might even include paying someone to provide food service.

It does not follow logic to say that no one would operate on the offered terms so therefore it becomes necessary for government to operate it. Hopefully, they will as soon as possible put out a new rfp and get out of the restaurant business.

And if YVRA returns $500K a year to the county budget then our local governments are really screwed up. On one hand, SB hikes sales tax to pay airlines to subsidize service into YVRA while on the other hand, the county pulls $500K from YVRA. Well, if that is the case then county residents have nothing to complain about paying SB's sales tax. We have SB supporting flights while the county takes money from the airport.

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gettinold 2 years, 10 months ago

If 3 wire is not covering itself the Airport they can put it out to bid again, one of my restraunt owner friends said the start up costs would be to big to consider putting forth a proposal. However in the future is the county puts it up to bid the operator wont need to purchase every cup, fork and plate. Most Airport inprovement projects are FAA funded so I doubt this is costing the local taxpayers an excessive amount. A good first and last impression is important to the visitors to the valley. The Airport is looking good and somthing we can be proud of, it was only a few years ago when the parking lot was dirt and you stood in line in a tent to check in. That was Mayberry.

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greenwash 2 years, 10 months ago

It would be a lot cheaper to provide FREE donuts and coffee til 11am and then have FREE chili and soda in the afternoon/eve.One person to set up clean up..TV on all the time ..DONE !

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 10 months ago

Going through a bid process adds costs of reviewing bids and the bidders have to add in the cost of preparing bids. So in a situation like this where there are only a few qualified local people and unclear how many of them would be interested in bidding then it does make sense to not have a bid process and just do some checking that the consulting is for a fair price.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 10 months ago

Well, apparently they gave you an answer first. That's fine. I guess if we were reporters on competing newspapers then I'd have to sharpen my game.

I may have asked for more information and so it is taking them a bit longer. I also asked what was spent on the remodel, the description of what Rex was paid to do and how promptly they expected to release financial results of the restaurant operations. (Remember how City of SS finance dept seemed able to inform the public of financial events that happened 4 to 6 months earlier?).

I know a SB restaurant a few years ago spent about $20K for a menu, recipes and training on preparing them. And for the quality chef that did that, it was considered a personal favor at that price. So what is a fair price depends upon what was provided and that is not known. Sort of like what is a fair price for a bull?

Regardless, looks like we are about to learn what government considers profitable and breaking even is not quite the same as the free market definitions.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 10 months ago

On another thread it is stated as being $999.99 less than someone's guess of $29,999.99. So somewhere between $20K and $30K. :)

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 10 months ago

So anyone want to venture a guess on the cost of creating the restaurant? It was not a remodel, but new construction since the restaurant was moved to the first floor.

Okay, enough teasing.- $567,851

  1. Steamboat Restaurant Group was contracted with for $29,000 split between Concept Development and Facilities Design.

  2. The total cost of construction was $567,851 and $144,000 for Design and Engineering. This was not a remodel it was new construction since the restaurant was moved to the first floor. Additionally, we had decided to make these improvements regardless of whether a concessionaire operated the restaurant or not.

  3. The County will have access to financial information on how the restaurant is doing on a monthly basis and it will be reported in the budget process as are all of our expenses and revenues.

Just remember it is all for the sacred gods of tourism as they rip out your beating heart and display it for all to see.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 10 months ago

yvb, see what happens when you accept the short answer. it was not just "concept", but "Concept Development and Facilities Design."

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 10 months ago

Isn't a "facility design" usually done by a licensed architect for a restaurant?

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 10 months ago

It would appear to not be part of the other costs so costs to date appear to be $740,851 for a part time eatery. So do you think that "profitable" included amortizing those costs over 10 years?

But it is a part time eatery as tourists enter and leave the area so it is a good deal. Plus, doesn't the airport get their revenues from landing fees so it is all paid as part of the fees for tourists which we are spending millions to subsidize to travel here.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 10 months ago

And now that we have learned the actual costs, the headline of the opinion piece is more true than ever. It sure does beat a snack box. But for $740K, it better.

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