When the dawn comes up on a promising winter day in Steamboat Springs, it’s time for Shealynne Yeager to flip on the red neon “open” sign at Johnny B. Good’s diner, cueing the regular crowd to shuffle in for a hearty breakfast.

Photo by Tom Ross

When the dawn comes up on a promising winter day in Steamboat Springs, it’s time for Shealynne Yeager to flip on the red neon “open” sign at Johnny B. Good’s diner, cueing the regular crowd to shuffle in for a hearty breakfast.

Dawn Patrol: From ranch to restaurant, Shealynne Yeager is no stranger to early mornings

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— It’s 5:45 a.m. on a frigid November morning, and Shealynne Yeager is bustling about behind the bar and in the tiny waiter’s aisle at Johnny B. Good’s diner in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Phil the cook already is grilling a big rasher of bacon and keeping an eye on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” when Yeager pops in the back door looking as though she were meeting a date on a Friday night.

Yeager, 20, awoke at 4:30 a.m. to feed horses on her family’s ranch on the Elk River, and now, in addition to refilling sugar bowls and bringing a fat stack of newspapers in off the street, she’s getting the liquor out of the cabinet and putting each bottle in its proper place in the well.

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Shealynne Yeager fills the cream pitchers at Johnny B. Good’s diner in time for the first regular of the morning to grab a cup of java.

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Shealynne Yeager serves breakfast to hungry patrons early one morning.

“You’d be surprised” how many people have a bloody mary or mimosa cocktail with their hash browns and eggs on a weekday morning, Yeager says.

She only has been working at Johnny B.’s, a contender if not the champion of modestly priced breakfasts in Ski Town USA, for 18 months. It’s the kind of place that has meatloaf and eggs on the breakfast menu, and the early bird special only sets you back four bucks, including either sausage or bacon with your eggs, toast and hash browns.

Johnny B.’s also is the kind of breakfast place with two signs, posted behind the bar, that strongly discourage sniveling on the part of customers — “Five dollar fine for whining!”

“Shealynne’s great,” proprietor Mike Diemer says, and then comes the setup. “We have a love/hate relationship. I love her, and she hates me.”

Seriously, Diemer adds, Yeager “comes from a great family,” and the connection to a local ranching tribe has brought him significant business. In summertime, it’s not unusual for visitors to Steamboat to plop down at a table and recognize Yeager as the young woman who galloped into the rodeo arena on horseback the night before, carrying the Stars and Stripes.

Customer service has become second nature to Yeager; her family has been hosting horse-drawn sleigh ride dinners attended by visitors and locals alike for many years.

“When I was a little girl, I told my Dad (Shane) I wanted to drive a team, and he said I could do that as soon as I learned to harness them myself. I was driving the sleigh when I was 9,” Yeager says matter-of-factly.

So, it comes as no surprise that a young woman who grew up doing ranch chores has no problem getting up before 5 a.m. to keep those coffee cups full at a throwback diner that makes a bustling ski town feel like home.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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