Eagle-Vail businesses muddling through summer
EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado – It’s been a tough summer for some Eagle-Vail businesses. A months-long construction project will do that.The gas line replacement project, in which Xcel Energy is digging up portions of U.S. Highway 6 between Edwards and Minturn, is necessary, company officials say. The old line simply can’t handle the demand in the upper valley any more. But that project has done more than complicate traffic. Rob and Susan Swimm bought Paddy’s Sports Bar & Grill last year. The Swimms thought they were building momentum at the business, and were looking forward to a better second year.These days, the Swimms have put the restaurant back on the market – although they’re staying open – and Rob Swimm says that’s because of the pipeline project. “If you’ve only got an hour for lunch, are you going to sit in traffic?” Swimm said. That’s the perception he and his wife have been fighting all summer, he said.The highway was closed completely at Dowd Junction for several weeks earlier this summer, but Swimm said the construction zone to the west has been the biggest problem.Ollie Holdstock’s business, the Route 6 Cafe, was essentially at the end of a cul-de-sac while the highway to Minturn was cut off. And, he said, it’s hurt his business. “But I’m flattered that folks would go out of their way to find me,” Holdstock said. “It’s a pain to get here.”At Pier 13 Liquor, owner Tom Domenico said he has a couple of customers who have gone out of their way to get to his store, something he’s grateful for. But, he added, he’s lost a significant amount of business, especially from people who used to drive home to Minturn from Avon or Beaver Creek along the highway. While the highway was closed completely to the east, those people had to take the interstate. These days, it’s simply more convenient.Domenico, who lives in Edwards, knows full well how the construction zone has affected traffic, especially over the last couple of weeks when the highway’s been choked down to one lane. “Some days I just go to the Minturn exit and double back,” he said. At Colorado Bike Service, Jeff Mohrman said he isn’t quite sure how the project has affected him, since his business has been a bit better than it was last year.”It’s been OK, we’ve dealt with it, but I’m sure we’ve been affected,” Mohrman said.At Vail Discount Tire, new owners Bill and Gail Britt have tried to turn the project to their advantage. The shop is offering discounts on oil changes and tires as long as the pipeline work continues.Domenico said he’s been running in-store specials as well. And, he said, it’s going to take more than road construction to keep him down.Holdstock echoed that sentiment. “You can’t keep a good man down,” he said. “Three years ago the road (toward Minturn) was closed for six months and we still survived.”Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.