Ghost Ranch summer season music highlights
June 1: Bill McKay Band with Ash Ganley
June 9: Ashlee K. Thomas and Karen Waldrup
June 15: Western Underground
June 22: Blackberry Smoke
July 7: Safety Orange
July 13: Finnders & Youngberg
Aug. 10: Matt Buckstein
Aug. 24: Great American Taxi
Tuesdays: Country dancing with Steamboat Stomp
Also: Shows from Sundog, the Worried Men, Tijerina, Quartermoon, the Justin Lane Band and more.
Steamboat Springs Weeks before its grand reopening, Ghost Ranch already was a bustling hub of activity.
The kitchen smelled of spices, and a staff of about 25 people was hired and trained. There were sound checks with local bands, minor construction projects and a general air of anticipation.
But general manager Tonie Roberts said she hopes one concept shines through when the downtown entertainment venue and restaurant reopens this week.
“It’s the respect for the Old West and for our local community,” she said. “We really want to embrace the locals and give them a place where they can feel comfortable.”
Ghost Ranch reopens Thursday with a concert from Missed the Boat, a local bluegrass and mountain rock band that also played the final concert Oct. 29 before the venue suddenly closed.
Owner Jean Sagouspe said at the time that Ghost Ranch had veered from its original vision and that he planned to reopen with new management. In early 2012, he brought in Roberts, whose background in the music industry and in hospitality seemed to fit right in with the restaurant and venue’s future.
“I’m actually quite excited about getting back open and showing the people of Steamboat what we’ve done,” Sagouspe said. “We’ve found a great team, and we’re ready to take Steamboat to a new level.”
Inside Ghost Ranch, it doesn’t look like much has changed. The logo sign and marquee were switched out with slight alterations, and in the dining room, the high-backed booths were cut down so diners can see the stage.
But other changes are subtler: Additional computers, services stations and wells behind the bar are just part of the renewed focus on customer service.
“The service level is going to be exceptional,” Roberts said. “That’s our focus.
“I tried to hire exceptional people and exceptional smiles.”
Another change is downstairs in the kitchen, where Executive Chef Michael Halpin honed a Western-themed menu laden with fresh and regional dishes like tri-tip sandwiches, rib-eye steaks and cedar-plank salmon.
“Everything is pretty much made from scratch,” he said, gesturing toward the mozzarella curd he and his staff will use to hand make cheese.
The cooks will be making fresh jerky from local and regional buffalo and elk as well as Halpin’s lamb bacon, an idea he brings from his former restaurant, Hearthstone, in Breckenridge.
The Ghost Ranch first opened as the Ghost Ranch Saloon in May 2009.
It quickly rose to notoriety as a music venue and bar, hosting concerts such as Swollen Members, Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, Big Gigantic, the Infamous Stringdusters and many local acts in the nearly 400-person space.
Roberts, who recently owned and operated Tonie’s nightclub in Colorado Springs, said the summer’s lineup of concerts is indicative of the venue’s musical identity.
“Musically, we’ll be consistent with our current offering, which is country, country western, bluegrass, folk and adult alternative,” she said.
Several bands will make their debuts in Steamboat at Ghost Ranch this summer including Blackberry Smoke and Western Underground, and local bands including Worried Men, Missed the Boat and Sundog also will take the stage.
The lighting system was updated as well as the sound system, which now boasts one of the only digital multitrack systems in the state west of Denver.
For concerts, entertainment coordinator and sound engineer David Buffaloe will be running the soundboard, which he will be able to adjust via iPad from the dance floor.
On Tuesdays, the venue will host country dancing, encouraging a culture of dancing for all ages.
“We want to focus on simplicity and what people really want,” Roberts said.
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com