Closed for renovation: Vail Valley favorites undergoing makeovers
Coyote Cafe, Minturn Saloon, Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, and Russell’s will reopen later in the year while the Westin Riverfront is launching a new restaurant concept
Spring is the season of renewal, and a number of businesses in the valley are starting new chapters with comprehensive remodeling projects. Each of these popular spots is currently shut down for renovations, but will be returning later in the year to offer customers an upgraded experience.
The Coyote Café closed on April 18 for renovations, and plans to reopen on Oct. 15 of this year. Owner Jeff Forbes said that the front of the restaurant is being redone, the look of the interior is being modernized, and most substantially, the bar area is being relocated to enable mixed indoor and outdoor service.
The bar will be relocated to the front of the restaurant, where patrons will be able to access it from the outdoor patio space as well as the dining area.
“On one end of the bar, it’ll be just a service window that you can walk up and get drinks from or order food from,” Forbes said. “You know, we have that common consumption area here in Beaver Creek, so we’re trying to take advantage of that.”
The spot where the bar used to be will be converted into more interior dining space. Forbes said that ownership recently upgraded the booths and chairs and will complement the new seating with some stylistic changes that help modernize the space.
“We’re keeping quite a lot of the old stuff,” Forbes said. “It’s a bit of a new look for the Coyote, but still trying to continue on being the old Coyote.”
In addition to the aesthetic changes, Forbes has hired a new chef who is reworking the menu for the reopening. He said that the offerings will remain similar, but with enhanced recipes.
“I think it will be a great refresh for the Coyote and for the village itself, just kind of bringing things up to date,” Forbes said. “We haven’t really changed much on the front of the Coyote for 35 years, so it’s time to do something.”
The Minturn Saloon
The Minturn Saloon was sold to new ownership this past December, and owners Connie and Anthony Mazza are now putting renovations into high gear to bring the valley’s most historic restaurant into the future.
The bar and restaurant closed on April 13. The Mazzas plan to do renovations all summer, aiming for a soft launch of the new space in the fall and a full reopening for the upcoming winter season.
Connie Mazza said that the first priority is making sure that everything in the 120-year-old building is brought up to code. The building has been owned by only four different families in that time period, with long periods of time between renovations, so there are a number of health and safety issues that need to be addressed before the aesthetic remodeling can begin.
“There were a lot of things about the building that were not safe,” Mazza said. “Exposed wiring, and just really kind of run down, so once you start renovations at all it’s your responsibility to be compliant with the town’s codes. There’s no such thing as being grandfathered in once a new owner takes over and starts changing little stuff. You’ve got to change it all.”
Mazza said that all of the photos and memorabilia that famously adorn the walls of the saloon are tucked safely away in storage, and will be displayed again in the new space. The couple has hired the design firm Gregory Rockwell Interiors to help update the style and design of the saloon, while keeping it true to its 19th century roots.
“It’ll still be the saloon, with elements of the Western, Victorian, traditional style that everyone loves, but we need to upgrade it,” Mazza said. “We’ll tie in the same wood and colors, but in different and creative ways.”
Classic touches, such as the tin-tile ceiling, will be carried over, and the defining era pieces that have long occupied the space will be restored, re-appropriated and preserved.
“There is an original back bar from the 1800s that people are used to seeing live in the dining room, that we’re actually moving to the bar that will become the actual back bar,” Mazza said. “It’s this beautiful wood and glass original from the 1800s that will be used in the real bar area, so that will be a way to preserve the old while incorporating the new.”
The new Minturn Saloon will also include an updated Tex-Mex menu; an elevated bar program, offering creative cocktails with fresh ingredients; and the Mazzas plan to bring more live music and entertainment into the space.
Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch
This spring, the Ritz-Carlton in Bachelor Gulch is completing the final phase of a two-year, multi-million dollar renovation. The resort closed its doors on April 4, and is scheduled to reopen on July 1.
The transformation of the property began in early 2020 with multiple new dining experiences. These included the opening of the sushi restaurant Sakaba, enhanced outdoor terraces at Fireside Bar, along with the additions of the WYLD Terrace Bar and the Buffalo’s Terrace Bar.
The final stage of the renovation includes fully remodeled guest rooms and suites, as well as a modernized interior design for The Club Lounge, the Great Room and the lobby. The spa area will also be getting a refreshed look, with new carpeting, paint and furniture.
“We definitely want to keep the current log cabin, mountain structure environment in place,” said General Manager Daniel Dickhart. “However, the updates will be more modern mountain luxury, is what I call it. It’s going to be earth tones, it’s going to be lighter colors, while maintaining that iconic cabin, mountain resort.”
The new design is led by Simon Hamui of Simon Hamui Design Studio.
“We sought to create spaces that encouraged social gatherings while integrating historical elements into the design to connect to the region’s history and nature,” Hamui said. “The premise is to create a warm and contemporary stylish setting that would contrast with the raw handmade log framework of the existing building.”
Dickhart said that a number of smaller projects were added to those originally planned. The Chair 16 coffee shop is being moved into the resort’s market space, making room for a private dining area next to the WYLD restaurant, and the Ritz Kids Club will be relocated to the fifth floor, with its old location being converted into a king suite with connecting queen bedrooms.
The renovation project is concluding just ahead of the resort’s 20th anniversary this December, opening a new chapter for the decades to come.
“Our ownership takes great pride in this resort, and they want to invest in it to make it the premiere resort in the valley,” Dickhart said. “For the past four to five years, they’ve been very progressive with enhancing the property. This new chapter will encompass an exciting new adventure for our guests as they embark on a journey to experience the wonders of our premier location all year-round.”
Russell’s in Vail Village is remodeling for the first time since 1995. Owner Drew Riley said that the restaurant will be shut down until a predicted reopening day of July 1, which is subject to change depending on the renovation progress.
Riley said that the remodeling includes strategic improvements to the lighting, the bar, the table layout, and the bathrooms.
“We’re trying to just make better use of the space, so really thinking about what are our pain points and stuff like that,” Riley said. “We’ve really thought about this from just how the restaurant works.”
Riley said that lighting has been a pain point for the restaurant for a number of years, since the staff is often rearranging tables to accommodate larger parties.
“The hosts do a game of Tetris every single night, and what we found is that when we were able to push the tables together we did more business, but the dining experience wasn’t the best because the lights weren’t right,” Riley said. “So we’re going with more of a modular lighting system that is adaptable.”
All of the carpets are being replaced, as well as the tables, chairs and bar top. Riley said that all of the design changes are intended to be a facelift, not a makeover. He assured devoted patrons that the dining area will maintain the same look and feel that has always defined Russell’s, but with a shined-up appearance.
“It may seem like we are doing a lot, but from the beginning, I have always said that Russell’s needs to still feel like Russell’s,” Riley said. “People need to come in and say: ‘Wow, Russell’s looks great’, not ‘Is this still Russells?’”
Maya at the Westin Riverfront
The Maya restaurant at the Westin Riverfront Hotel in Avon closed down in April and is reopening in late June as an entirely new restaurant concept. Head Chef Richard Sandoval is replacing the Maya’s modern Mexican cuisine with a contemporary American grill, serving alpine-inspired dishes that highlight healthy, local foods.
The new menu will feature hearty grilled meats, seafoods and shareable plates, along with a beverage program that includes new and old-world wines, hand muddled craft cocktails, an extensive selection of Colorado craft beers and zero-proof beverages.
The patio dining area was also recently renovated last summer with fire pits, and a full-service outdoor bar with views of Beaver Creek Mountain and the Eagle River.