Changing times affect some Vail businesses |

Changing times affect some Vail businesses

Melanie Wong
Pedestrians walk along Bridge Street near the covered bridge in Vail on Thursday. Bridge Street has recently seen some shifting around of businesses in the Village, as well as some businesses that have been there for years and had to leave altogether.
Anthony Thornton | |

VAIL — Toy stores, high-end boutiques, restaurants, nightclubs and coffee shops — all are businesses that have made an appearance (however brief) on Bridge Street over the past few years.

The main drag of Vail Village is home to a number of successful, longstanding businesses, but the past few years have also seen some significant changeover, the latest being the Ore House, a 46-year veteran of the Vail restaurant scene.

Owners said the restaurant closed not because of a lack of business, but because they were unable to renew their lease.

“It’s too bad because business had really grown in the last three to four years, and the Ore House was such a staple in the village,” said general manager Steve Shelman.

The same goes for the Tap Room, a bar/restaurant that was a fixture at the top of Bridge Street for 14 years. It closed its doors after the winter of 2013, also saying it was unable to renew its lease.

Also on the list of businesses that have closed or moved are Golden Bear (which moved to a new location on Meadow Drive), The Toy Shop (moved to a new location on Gore Creek), The Great Put On (which opened briefly in the vacated Golden Bear space) and a number of coffee shops that operated in the space now occupied by Venture Sports.

Changing business

Rick Mueller, who owns a number of Vail Valley developments, including the Vista Bahn Building which is home to Venture Sports and the former Tap Room, said he attributes the revolving door of businesses to changing times.

He said his rents are actually lower than they were before 2008 and that they’ve slowly climbed back to 2008 prices. About 15 or 20 years ago, rents were so high that renters could make a big profit just by selling their lease to someone else, he said.

In a new economy, he said he thinks building owners and businesses are still finding a balance when it comes to rent costs.

“The whole model for real estate is changing,” said Mueller. “At that point nobody cared as long as someone was coming in to fill the space. At that time you had a lot of people who ran a business just to live up here. Now people want to run a business and also need to make ends meet. In recent years things are shrinking back to allow the tenant being able to make some money and the landlord getting what he can.”

The upstairs of the Vista Bahn Building sat vacant all ski season, but Mueller said a restaurant is set to open in the space soon.

‘A mixed bag’

Of course, for every business that was forced to relocate or close, some continue to do very well.

“It’s a mixed bag on Bridge Street,” said Steve Kaufman, former owner of the Tap Room. “Some businesses seemed to really struggle while others seemed to do really well.”

Vendetta’s, known for its late night pizza slices, recently expanded and renovated its space, and longtime Bridge Street staples such as Joe’s Deli and The Red Lion are still a part of the landscape.

Venture Sports has successfully run a ski and bike shop out of a corner spot for the past couple years. Previously, a series of sport rentals combined with coffee shops tried the space, with little success.

For the businesses that have left, some have made successful moves, while others said they’re looking for a new location. Kaufman said it’s entirely possible that the Tap Room might be resurrected in another location.

“I’m always looking for opportunities,” he said.

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and

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