Gypsum’s Creekside Grill finds success where many others failed
GYPSUM — With its expansive veranda offering some of the Vail Valley’s most panoramic vistas and its appealing indoor dining area anchored by a central fireplace, it was always a mystery why so many restaurateurs failed at the Gypsum Creek Golf Clubhouse.
Five years ago, that changed when Scott Berry opened the Creekside Clubhouse & Grill. Where others failed, he has found the winning formula for what has evolved into one of western Eagle County’s most popular eateries.
“Since we bought the course seven years ago, we have watched various tenants try to make it work,” said Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll. “The Gypsum Creek Grill seems like they have figured out the right formula for success.”
Berry said there really isn’t a secret to that formula.
“It probably has something to do with my 36 years of restaurant experience,” he said.
Berry has worked in the restaurant industry since he was 14 years old.
“It was always the easiest job to get,” he said.
Easy to get hired, that is. The work itself has never been simple.
While he was still in his teens, Berry was the head prep cook for a Mexican restaurant in Arizona that averaged dinner service for 1,500 a night. From there he moved on to a 64-restaurant chain operation based in Southern California where he climbed the ladder from kitchen manager to corporate trainer.
A job offer with the Gunther Toody’s chain in Denver brought him to Colorado. He worked as the director of operations for the chain before moving over to become a representative for Sysco food distribution. He worked for Sysco for 19 years, and he was actually making sales calls at restaurants in his new Vail-area territory when he first saw the Creekside Grill space. He couldn’t believe that the only food service offered at the site was hot dogs.
“I thought, ‘If I am ever going to get back in the restaurant business, I might as well get back into it now,’” he said.
He broached the idea with his wife, Karen, and when they learned the town of Gypsum was looking for someone to operate the golf clubhouse restaurant, they decided to give it a shot.
‘Bright spot in Gypsum’
As Shroll noted, the town had owned the space for a couple of years by the time Berry arrived. When Gypsum took over the golf course and the clubhouse, they rebranded the operation with the Gypsum Creek moniker. Prior to that time, the operation was known as Cotton Ranch and it had been open for more than a decade. Everyone agreed the restaurant space was great, but no one had managed to turn a profit at the site.
“When I did my presentation to the town, I said this place had so much potential,” said Berry. “I told them I thought it could be the bright spot in Gypsum.”
Berry’s operation today reflects what he originally envisioned — a friendly restaurant with a family menu. The menu features a smattering of everything — from steaks and burgers to Mexican dishes and pasta. Berry’s business mantra is consistent quality and good service.
“You only get one shot at a customer nowadays,” he said.
Berry noted his meat comes from Colorado and stressed Creekside serves top notch products. If it is on his menu, then it is made from scratch and Berry is a stickler for following the operation’s recipe. That means customers can expect consistent quality.
Front of the house
Creekside is also all about value. From their $9 Monday night burger madness to the $21.95 Friday night prime rib special, the restaurant’s pricing speaks for itself.
“Scott has done a really good job hiring friendly staff and putting out a really good product for a good price. That is what has been the key to their success the past few years,” Shroll said.
Scott and Karen Berry are not behind-the-scenes owners. Scott is a familiar presence at the Creekside dining room.
“I have always been attracted to the service end. I like the craziness and fun of taking care of people,” he said. “The thing I love to see is when we are full and my customers are wandering around to other tables to talk with their neighbors or with an old high school friend they haven’t seen in a while.”
As temperatures warm up, Creekside Grill is entering its busiest season. In addition to the added business that comes as golfers hit the course and diners stop by to enjoy the deck, the restaurant has become a popular local wedding venue.
Berry said nearly 20 ceremonies are booked this summer, with couples planning to exchange vows at the outdoor gazebo area and then take over the restaurant space for their receptions. When those events are booked, the Creekside closes to the public for the evening and its venue and reception food packages begin at $3,500.
Aside from special events, the Creekside is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week during the summer season. Creekside Club and Grill can be reached at 970-524-5160.