Steamboat Springs After a rough start and some failed ventures, Wildhorse Marketplace off Mount Werner Road is past gaining steam and is primed to push ahead with growth.
The restaurant scene in the plaza, which has seen eateries come and go, now is anchored by McKnight’s Irish Pub & Loft, The Rusted Porch and Cruisers Sub Shop. The three are owned by Steamboat Partners — which comprises Kerry Shea, Kris Shea, Brent Pearson and Malcolm Scott — and have managed to prosper in the shopping center.
Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas now is the only movie theater in town, and new retail is poised to fill a couple of the last remaining commercial spots.
The center was built during the run up to the recent recession — said Kerry Shea, who works for Resort Ventures West and does property management for Steamboat Partners — and now the restaurants the partnership started in the marketplace are seeing growth.
Changes and expansion
McKnight's, which is managed by Shea, is putting the finishing touches on its vision of a community Irish pub. New wood siding went up on the outside of the building this week, and the upstairs game room has seen improvements, he said.
“The original vision was headed that way,” Shea said about finishing the work started by Kyteler’s Irish Pub, which failed to open in the same space.
Shea said he is following the exterior changes, which seek to mimic an authentic Irish pub, with endeavors and initiatives to add an authentic sense of community. The restaurant has donated proceeds to the Steamboat Springs Challenge Fund and participated in initiatives like Movember and the Mustache Ride in November.
“We’re trying to do everything we can,” he said. “We’re proactively getting out in the community.”
The Rusted Porch, which is managed by Scott, also is going through changes with an expansion that will give the restaurant about 50 new seats. The new vestibule being built is about a week or two from being complete, Scott said, but when open, the increased space will allow the restaurant to accommodate more large groups.
“You have to make hay when the sun shines,” Scott said about capitalizing on the large waves of traffic that come through Steamboat for holidays and events. “To peak the peaks, you need seats.”
McKnight’s had its best month in December, Shea said. Scott said the pattern of visitors was a little different this year, as other Steamboat businesses have echoed, but he’s optimistic about the rest of the year and the new construction.
OutdoorK9 represents the new retail offerings coming to Wildhorse.
Chris and Nicole Van Ruler hope their new storefront focused on high-end pet supplies is open by late February.
After 12 years of traveling for work, Chris Van Ruler said, he and Nicole wanted something different, and the couple moved from Estes Park to Steamboat in May. The enthusiasm Steamboat residents have for the outdoors and how family-friendly and dog-friendly the city is made the decision, Chris Van Ruler said. Not long after that, the couple had a baby girl, Mya.
Now they’ll be pouring some of their attention into the outdoor-centric pet store.
Although most of the items will be focused on dogs, there will be some things for cats, as well.
The store will have activity-specific gear, such as skijoring harnesses, and specialty products like raw food options for dogs.
Some of the items already are for sale on OutdoorK9’s website.
Chris Van Ruler said he also wants to work to provide resources for those who want to spend more time outside with their pets, including when certain areas open up to dogs and what are some of the most dog-friendly activities in the area.
He’s been out testing some of the gear, too.
The couple has two dogs: Aspen, a 3 1/2-year-old German shepherd, and Sadie, a 9-year-old boxer.
“I don’t want to sell stuff I don’t know how to use,” he said, noting he hopes Aspen comes to enjoy skijoring.
Shea said Wildhorse has been able to create a nice blend of businesses.
“They want to see activity, and we’re there,” he said. “That breeds additional activity.”
Wildhorse recently saw the opening of a new office for architecture firm Vertical Arts and a new interior design and home store is slated to fill another retail space.
The center was something in which the partners in the restaurants and those who manage Wildhorse always believed, Shea said.
“The global context and local context have been trying,” he said. “Now, to see it come to fruition … it’s hugely rewarding.”
To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com