| VailDaily.com

The Left Bank celebrates 50 years in Vail

Jean Michel Chelain, who grew up in the French Alps in Grenoble, France, started his 35-year culinary career in his teens and came to the states at age 26. He found Vail in late 1998 after being in Florida, California and the Midwest. He took over the Left Bank in 2006. (The Left Bank
Special to the Daily)

Five decades in a mountain ski town is a long time for a business, especially for a restaurant.

The Left Bank celebrates its 50th anniversary this season. The French eatery opened up on Nov. 24, 1970 to then-owners Luc and Liz Meyer. The Meyer’s were not only new to Vail, but new to America. Liz had grown up in Europe and Africa and Luc was raised in France. They met in the Bahamas of all places, got married in the Virgin Islands and came to Colorado on the recommendation of a friend they met there.

“We came to Colorado and visited Steamboat, Aspen, Breckenridge, Crested Butte and nothing felt as right as Vail did to start a French restaurant,” Luc said.

Things moved fast for the Meyer’s once they got to Vail in September of 1970. The birth of their first son came a few weeks after their arrival and they signed a deal to open a new restaurant just weeks after that. Although Luc had a friend working with him as a chef at the beginning, that chef’s wife did not like it in Vail and they moved shortly after he started.

“Claude quit and I came home and told Liz, ‘Today, you start. You are in charge,’ and we had 107 dinners that night,” Luc said.

Luc and Liz Meyer came to Vail in September of 1970 and opened up the Left Bank on Nov. 24, 1970. Luc was the executive chef and Liz ran the front of the house, hand writing the dinner menus each night. (Liz Meyer
Special to the Daily)

The Left Bank’s name is a nod to the Left Bank of the Seine River that flows through Paris and is known for its restaurants, boutiques, Musée d’Orsay and the Eiffel Tower. The menu back then featured classic French dishes like onion soup, escargot and coq au vin.

The couple worked hard and their efforts were recognized, especially once President Gerald R. Ford started coming to Vail for vacations in the 1970s.

“He always came to the Left Bank for his birthday on July 14. He liked the liver and the trout and he loved dessert, especially my homemade ice cream,” Luc said.

Not only would the president dine at the Left Bank but so would American politicians and foreign dignitaries like Henry Kissinger, Pierre Trudeau and Margaret Thatcher. Celebrities and world-class athletes came in as well. Robert Redford, Natalie Wood, Andy Warhol, John Denver, Bob Hope and the cast from “Charlie’s Angels” all have signed the guest book.

There were decades of success for the Meyer’s at the Left Bank, but eventually they knew they would want to pass it along to someone who could continue the legacy of this French restaurant in Vail. Jean Michel Chelain eventually became the perfect person to carry the torch.

Chelain, who grew up in the French Alps in Grenoble, France, started his 35-year culinary career in his teens and came to the states at age 26. He found Vail in late 1998 after being in Florida, California and the Midwest.

“I literally picked this place on a map,” Chelain said about coming to Vail. “I found out about the Left Bank two days before I was driving here.” The two Frenchmen bonded and Chelain landed his dream job.

“It was almost like an apprenticeship, working underneath Luc and Liz and learning the business and all the nuances that go with a restaurant, it was so valuable,” Chelain said.

“The restaurant was like Liz and Luc’s ’baby’ and they’d built it up to the point that it was not just about cooking food, it was also about being a good interpreter and to keep that legacy going for them,” Chelain said.

In order to maintain the tradition, Chelain also had to make it his own.

“There were big shoes to fill so the important thing when I took over was not to change everything. It was the Left Bank and that’s what we were going to do and little by little we would change a few things, reinvent and try to make it even better and try to appeal to the next generation,” Chelain said. “I’d start by doing specials and if people liked the dish, we’d put it on the menu.”

Left Bank chef-owner Jean Michel Chelain’s Dover Sole Meunière is served tableside and has become a signature dish at the Vail restaurant. (Left Bank
Special to the Daily)

“We always had Black Angus beef before, but now I’ve added waygu New York strip, or waygu Beef Wellington from a filet, and I can tell you, that is a super popular dish now, the ‘waygu Wellington,’” Chelain said. “But, even though we add new things, we still carry out traditional French techniques in the kitchen.”

In 2014, Chelain did a complete renovation of the Left Bank’s decor and brought in world-renown interior designer Katia Bates of Innovative Creations in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Bates, an Italian native, was the designer for Versace’s mansion in 2000 and in 2004. Bates was able to update the Left Bank and give it a brand new, light, fresh look with the use of blue hues and white leather and iron chandeliers with tiered glass and crystal drops.

The wine cellar is prominently showcased in the dining room behind large glass doors and glass walls. The artwork exhibits an airy feeling and the deep blue velvet and leather detail on the booths and pillows brings in a cozy yet chic feel. The Left Bank’s updated look is in a class of its own in the Vail restaurant scene.

In 2014, chef-owner Jean Michel Chelain did a complete renovation of the Left Bank’s decor and brought in world-renown interior designer Katia Bates of Innovative Creations in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Bates, an Italian native, was the designer for Versace’s mansion in 2000 and in 2004. (Left Bank
Special to the Daily)

In addition to updating the restaurant and evolving the menu over the past 15 years, Chelain is also looking to the future. He wants more people to enjoy the Left Bank not only by dining in, but also by being able to bring a taste of the Left Bank home. Window by Left Bank is Chelain’s latest concept.

Window by Left Bank is a collection of ready-made menu items including the Left Bank’s legendary French onion soup and tomato soup. You can build the perfect meal by adding other favorites like escargot bourguignon in the shell or prime osetra caviar. There are also ready-made entrées that you can finish at home. Impress your dinner guests with Iberico bellota marinated pork lion or duck leg confit sous vide. You don’t have to let them know that chef Chelain did all the work.

Chelain, who is barely 50 years old himself, is still a bit in awe of this banner year for the Vail landmark.

“The Left Bank definitely didn’t achieve the 50-year mark alone. There have been many people involved over the decades. Tremendous dedication and understanding have gone into what this restaurant is all about. It’s the history, the quality and the special feeling people have the moment they dine with us. Our goal is to maintain the legacy while raising the bar of excellence in the 21st century,” Chelain said.

Left Bank is located on Gore Creek Drive in Vail. Visit www.leftbankvail.com for more information about the restaurant.

Open for Business: Altitude Bar and Grill

Name of business: Altitude Bar and Grill

Physical address: Evergreen Lodge 250 S. Frontage Rd. W. Vail, CO 81657

Phone number: 970-306-2619

Email: daver@evergreenvail.com

Website: www.evergreevail.com/dining

What goods or services are you offering at this time? 

We are currently offering dining, patio and takeout service.

How have you adjusted to serve your customers during these unprecedented times?

We have adjusted by practicing social distancing, employees face masks, frequent hand washing, sanitizing stations, frequent cleaning of common areas

How can the community support you?

They can support us by dining at our restaurant and ordering takeout.

What’s the best source to keep up to date with your offerings?

Facebook is the best way to stay up to date

What’s the response been?

The response from locals and hotel guests have been great and we appreciate their support

What are your plans going forward as the “new normal” evolves?

The plans going to forward is to continue social distancing and sanitation as we protect our customers and hotel guests

Open for Business: Terra Bistro

Name of business:  Terra Bistro 

Physical address: 352 E. Meadow Dr. Vail, CO 81657

Phone number: 970-476-6836

Email: www.terrabistrovail.com

Website: terrabistrovail.com

What goods or services are you offering at this time? 

We are offering thoughtfully sourced and prepared dinner for dine-in service and takeout. Our menu highlights produce that represents summer in the mountains of Colorado while maintaining the service and health-driven cuisine that has been quintessential to Terra Bistro for over 25 years. In addition to our normal a la carte menu option, we will be continuously creating and offering three-course takeout meals for two or more throughout the summer, to offer Terra quality dinner in the comfort of your home. 

How have you adjusted to serve your customers during these unprecedented times? 

We are offering contactless online ordering (go to the website for link) and family-style menu selections and dinners you can pre-order up to 72 hours in advance. Social distancing tables in the dining room, all staff/guests required to follow local and state protocols. Offering to-go cocktail kits and specials on wine bottles from our cellar. The staff at Terra Bistro has always taken sanitation practices and safe work environments very seriously. In addition to our daily sanitation practices, we have further upped our levels of sanitation standards, from always wearing masks on property to ensuring our takeout orders are put together with as little contact as possible. The customer’s safety and wellness have always been and always will be our number one concern.

How can the community support you?

Make a reservation for dinner or plan a Terra To-Go night out in your own home.

What’s the best source to keep up to date with your offerings?

Social media and our website will be updated as we expand the menu. Keep an eye out for amazing family-style specials. 

What’s the response been?

We are very happy to be open and are so ecstatic to offer quality food, beverages and service to our Terra Bistro community once again. It has been a slow start, but we want people to know we are here and ready! It may be an interesting new beginning to what the restaurant industry will be like, at least in our near-future. However, we are looking forward to learning and relearning how to make the very best dining experience for our customers, both new and veteran.

What are your plans going forward as the “new normal” evolves?

We will focus on maintaining the highest degree of health and safety for our guests and staff while eagerly seeking to get back to providing the amazing dining experience we’ve been perfecting for the past 26 years.

Open for Business: Left Bank Restaurant

Name of business: Left Bank Restaurant

Physical address: Located in Sitzmark Lodge 183 Gore Creek Vail, CO 81657

Phone number: 970-476-3696

Email: jmc@leftbankvail.com

Website: leftbankvail.com

What goods or services are you offering at this time? 

Left Bank is offering grab-and-go lunch Tuesdays through Saturdays starting at 11:45 a.m. We also have grab-and-go dinner if you want to dine outside or take it home. We are offering dine-in service from 5:30-9 p.m. We have a special of three courses for $49. Reservations are required.

How have you adjusted to serve your customers during these unprecedented times? 

Left Bank is offering the takeout option for lunch Tuesdays-Saturdays during the summer, which is a new offering. Our restaurant will continue to offer a safe and healthy social distancing experience for all customers who dine in for dinner based on the Eagle County Department of Public Health and Environment guidelines for restaurants.

How can the community support you?

We are happy to be back open for business as of June 1! Left Bank is delighted to offer grab-and-go lunch. We are also open for dine-in dinner reservations with the proper health and safety protocols in place. You can also support us by purchasing gift cards.

What’s the best source to keep up to date with your offerings?

Visit our website or call us Tuesdays-Saturdays at 970-476-3696.

What’s the response been?

Prior to advertising, many guests personally reached out to chef-owner Jean-Michel Chelain not only to show support but also to inquire when they would be able to come and dine with us again. Jean-Michel began making his famous lobster rolls and offering them for carryout. The response was so positive, and soon the word spread. We knew that creating a lunch carryout menu would be well received. The wonderful returning staff is enthusiastically ready to start the summer season and see new and returning guests.

We have created a fresh menu for summer with new offerings along with our dearly loved classics. We are excited and optimistic about our new ventures, and we can offer guests marvelous dining options along with exceptional service in a safe and clean environment. 

What are your plans going forward as the “new normal” evolves? 

We are taking this time to expand our dining experience. Jean-Michel has created a variety of sandwiches that can be taken with you for lunch. For the month of June, our menu consists of three courses for $49. We are following the dine-in precautions, which means reservations are necessary. We are also looking to open for service along Gore Creek Drive so our guests can enjoy the stunning views Vail has to offer while listening to the creek. Left Bank has always prided itself on its sanitation procedures, and the transition to the new regulations was easy to adopt. Our staff has been trained, and we are committed to creating a safe restaurant for our guests.  

Open for Business: Bol Vail

Name of business: Bol Vail

Physical address: 141 East Meadow Drive Suite 113 Vail, CO 81657

Phone number: 970-476-5300

Email: info@bolvail.com

Website: bolvail.com

What goods or services are you offering at this time? 

Bol is offering dining inside or on our patio and takeout orders. We also have bowling, lawn games and small group events.

How have you adjusted to serve your customers during these unprecedented times? 

Employees are required to wear facemasks, we are frequently disinfecting common areas and have multiple hand sanitizing stations. We also have online ordering and payment options.

How can the community support you?

The community can support us by dining with us, bowling, getting takeout orders and purchasing gift cards.

What’s the best source to keep up to date with your offerings?

To stay up to date on the happenings at Bol go to our website and our Facebook page.

What’s the response been?

The response from our customer has been great! We opened on May 29 and business was good and the feedback from customers has been great on social media.

What are your plans going forward as the “new normal” evolves? 

The plans going forward are to continue social distancing and following Eagle County guidelines so we can provide a safe and fun environment for our customers.

Open for Business: Sundae Artisan Ice Cream

Name of business: Sundae Artisan Ice Cream

Physical address: 242 E. Meadow Drive, Vail; 56 Edwards Village Blvd., Edwards; and 723 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs

Phone number: Vail is 970-479-1705, Edwards is 970-766-7522 and Glenwood Springs is 970-456-1355

Emails: ashlyn@sundae.biz and molly@sundae.biz

Website: sundaeicecream.com

What goods or services are you offering at this time?

Sundae in Edwards, Vail and Glenwood Springs are currently offering the full ice cream menu including shakes, cones and sundaes. We also have pints, quarts, ice cream sandwiches and cakes.

How have you adjusted to serve your customers during these unprecedented times?

The staff at Sundae has been working diligently to comply with all government and Centers for Disease Control guidelines. To comply with social distancing, all stores have markers on the floor to help maintain the 6-foot distance between non-household guests. All of our patio tables are stationed 8 feet apart. We are also taking orders and payments over the phone for contact-free pickup. 

How can the community support you?

We feel incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support and generosity that the community has shown us throughout this challenging time. Because of this, both stores have been able to stay open during the stay at home order, and we were able to open our Glenwood Springs location successfully.

Our favorite way the community can support us is to continue to shop at Sundae and spread the word that we are still open for business. Other ways to support us are to purchase gift cards at any location to use at a later date or share feedback on TripAdvisor, Yelp or Google about an experience they had at Sundae.

What’s the best source to keep up to date with your offerings?

Our social media pages are updated frequently with any changes and special offers. We can be found at Sundae Artisan Ice Cream on Facebook and @sundae.artisan.icecream on Instagram.

What’s the response been?

The community response to our careful decision to remain open throughout the stay-at-home order has been overwhelmingly positive. Our Vail store has been fortunate to stay open due to an amazing handful of generous Vail Valley locals that stopped by almost daily for weeks, keeping smiles on our staff’s faces throughout quiet days. During this time, we have been working as fast as possible to keep up with our cake and pint production, as the demand is far greater than we anticipated.

Throughout the past few months, the Vail Valley community has continued to make Sundae a part of their lives. On this year’s gloomy Easter afternoon, one local couple made it a priority to come by the Vail store and sing “You Are My Sunshine” to the employee working that day. We have had locals make our store a stop during their daily walk with their dog. Families now end their bike rides in front of our shop with ice cream cones in hand. Getting to know more of our community on a personal level during this quiet time has been an amazing silver lining.

What are your plans going forward as the “new normal” evolves?

We are excited for the time we can hand out samples again and not hide our smiles underneath a mask, but the safety of our employees and community is our top priority. Our operations are continuing to evolve with government guidelines. Regardless of what that may look like, Sundae will always be here, scooping toward the same goal: to share joy, one scoop at a time.

Open for Business: The Fitz

Name of business: The Fitz      

Physical address: Manor Vail Lodge 595 Vail Valley Drive Vail, CO 81657

Phone number: 970-476-4959

Email: marketing@manorvail.com     

Website: www.thefitzbar.com

What goods or services are you offering at this time? 

We are offering a limited high-quality menu that includes local ingredients and beverages that are prepared and packaged safely for any customer to take with them on our outdoor patio, Ford Park, or Manor Vail Lodge gardens. Both car parking and bike parking are available on-site.

How have you adjusted to serve your customers during these unprecedented times?

We have streamlined the ordering process by reducing touch points with a digital menu board and packaging items in to-go compostable containers. Guests can simply order by phone or at the bar. We will either deliver the order to their table outside on the patio or package their items so they can take them wherever they go.

How can the community support you?

We welcome the community to come by for lunch or dinner and enjoy our outdoor patio or order takeout.

What’s the best source to keep up to date with your offerings?

Our website and social media (Instagram and Facebook @theFitzVail)

What’s the response been?

Our staff members are eager and excited to welcome guests and locals back to our establishment to enjoy great food, local beverages and the great outdoors.

What are your plans going forward as the “new normal” evolves? 

We are evaluating our operations and procedures on a weekly basis to make our customers and staff members remain safe and healthy. With our large outdoor patio and proximity to Ford Park, we are encouraging guests to dine outside whenever possible instead of dining inside, as space is limited.

Open for Business: Root & Flower

Name of business: Root & Flower

Physical address: 288 Bridge Street Vail, CO 81657

Phone number: 970-470-4189

Email: hello@rootandflowervail.com

Website: www.rootandflowervail.com

What goods or services are you offering at this time? 

We are open Mondays through Thursdays from 4 p.m.-12 a.m. and Fridays through Sundays 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. serving brunch on the weekends. To-go cocktails, wine and food are still available. All of our menus are updated and current on our website.

How have you adjusted to serve your customers during these unprecedented times?

We are still virtual! Our virtual wine tasting classes on Fridays will continue through June. Go to our website to view the classes and book your spot.

How can the community support you?

The community can best support us by coming in to see us, ordering take out or buying gift cards.

What’s the best source to keep up to date with your offerings?

Instagram and Facebook are the best ways to stay up to date with our offerings.

What’s the response been?

The response to our virtual classes, our takeout offerings and our new food menu has been amazing!

What are your plans going forward as the “new normal” evolves? 

Plans going forward are just to stay true to our brand and be creative!

Open for Business: Up the Creek

Name of business: Up the Creek

Physical address: 223 E Gore Creek Dr.

Phone number: 970-476-8141

Email: Info@vailupthecreek.com

Website: www.vailupthecreek.com

What goods or services are you offering at this time? 

We are offering a limited menu that can be found on our website on Thursdays-Mondays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for both dine-in and takeout.

How have you adjusted to serve your customers during these unprecedented times?

Our goal is to make our customers feel safe while enjoying their dining experience. Our staff will be masked and in gloves and sanitizing all high use areas and items after every use. Tables and walkways will be at least six feet apart and if our guests have any requests to make them feel safer we will try our best to always accommodate those requests.

How can the community support you?

We want our guests to feel safe and comfortable dining again. The best way they can support us is to come have a meal, enjoy a cocktail on our beautiful deck and tell their friends about the experience they had at Up The Creek. If dining at our restaurant isn’t an option we are offering all of our menu and drinks to go.

What’s the best source to keep up to date with your offerings?

Our social media pages, Instagram and Facebook, as well as our website will be the best way to stay up to date on our menu and operating hours.

What’s the response been?

The response from our community has been great. People have been getting to-go food and picnicking on our lawn as well as enjoying our new dine-in option. 

What are your plans going forward as the “new normal” evolves? 

As the “new normal ” evolves we are looking for new ways for our guests to enjoy their experience. Whether that entails them dining in, picnicking on our lawn, or something we’ve never tried before such as pairing dining and an activity like yoga and apps. We will continue running our restaurant safely and conscious of keeping our staff and guests in good health.

Open for Business: Pepi’s Bar & Restaurant

Name of business: Pepi’s Bar & Restaurant 

Physical address: 231 E. Gore Creek Dr. Vail, CO 81657

Phone number: 970-476-4671

Email: info@pepis.com

Website:  pepis.com

What goods or services are you offering at this time? 

We are offering table service and takeout. Our hours are 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. with a limited menu. We are closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We are taking reservations. Come sit on our sunny deck.

How have you adjusted to serve your customers during these unprecedented times?

We are following COVID-19 guidelines for operation

How can the community support you?

Come and join us for some delicious food and drinks in a safe place.

What’s the best source to keep up to date with your offerings?

Feel free to call us or view our website and Facebook page.

What’s the response been?

People are happy we are open and able to enjoy some of our staple menu items and of course enjoy our deck.

What are your plans going forward as the “new normal” evolves? Follow the guidelines that are given so our town’s businesses don’t get shut down again and we can all stay safe moving forward.