Minturn Saloon now open under new ownership
The restaurant will remain open throughout the winter season as new owners plan updates for the future
On Dec. 18, the Minturn Saloon officially opened under the new ownership of Anthony and Connie Mazza. It was the first day of a new chapter for the historic restaurant and building, which has operated under longtime owners Steve Campbell and Andy Kaufman for the past 35 years.
“I’ve probably gotten 300 texts in the past seven days about it,” Anthony Mazza said. “It’s been crazy. People from Indianapolis, Miami, Paris. … The stoke is high.”
The Mazzas are longtime locals who opened their first restaurant, Village Bagel, in Edwards in 2016. Known for bringing authentic New York-style bagels to the valley, the couple is now ready to undertake classic Southwestern fare in one of the most historic saloons in the state.
“We’ve always made simple food taste good,” Connie Mazza said. “That’s what we did with the bagels, and that’s what we’re going to do with Southwestern Mexican fare as well. Although opposite, they’re both comfort foods, and they have a lot of nostalgia for people.”
The Minturn Saloon also holds nostalgic memories for the Mazzas, who held their engagement party there and have a deep appreciation for the saloon’s significance to locals and tourists alike.
“I grew up as a kid going to the saloon with my family,” Connie Mazza said. “My mom, who passed away 10 years ago, used to take us there every year, so it’s a special place in my heart because it reminds me of all the good times that I had in Vail as a kid.”
When the building went on the market in October of this year, the Mazzas were aware of it but didn’t think it was within their reach.
“We knew it was on the market, but we never considered it a possibility until we were approached by the investors in mid-November,” Connie Mazza said.
According to a recent press release, the small group of investors — based out of Denver and New York — bought the saloon “with the intention of preserving the iconic restaurant and letting Connie and Anthony operate the day-to-day at the restaurant.”
With solid financial backing, the Mazzas’ years of experience running a restaurant in the valley, and Anthony Mazza’s talents as a chef, the Minturn Saloon has all the resources needed to be revitalized for years to come.
The Mazzas and their partners closed on the deal in less than a month, and have applied the small updates necessary to bring the restaurant up to code and remain open throughout the winter season. They only closed for one day before reopening under the new ownership, and Anthony Mazza said it was important to them that they kept the doors open during the high season.
“We didn’t want to displace the staff,” Anthony Mazza said. “There are 30 to 40 people that are staying on board, and we didn’t want to displace them during the busiest time of the year, so we literally put it into high gear and put in a lot of hours the last couple of weeks, because we had to come to code. It was a scramble to do that, to say the least.”
Anthony Mazza is working on updating the saloon’s menu, which he plans to revamp with fresh ingredients and innovative flavor combinations. For starters, he has introduced a new salsa recipe that is available at the restaurant now.
“We do have a new menu that we’re going to roll out here soon,” Anthony Mazza said. “New salsa was the start, and we wanted to come in and just refresh stuff and put Chef’s touch on things. We used fresh tomatoes, we roasted the onions and jalapenos, we’re grinding them so that it’s chunky and fresh — less out of a can, and more out of the garden.”
The immediate tweaks are just the beginning of a number of updates to the equipment, the menu and the interior that the Mazzas plan to make in the upcoming year. In April, following the end of the winter season, they intend to shut the restaurant down for a period of time to complete a more thorough renovation of the building’s interior while remaining true to the traditional saloon atmosphere.
The couple intends to build off the strong foundations that the Minturn Saloon has already established in the valley, and reinstate the restaurant as a flourishing community hub.
“I couldn’t say no to this opportunity, because I do have such emotional ties to the saloon, and it’s so established and well-known from the past that people are always going to come,” Connie Mazza said. “It still attracts the once-a-year out-of-towners, but in terms of year-round locals, I think that’s been lost a little bit, and we want to bring people in again. Especially if the food is good, and the place has new equipment and looks good and the music is good — it’s a no brainer.”
“We’re honored to grab the torch and take this place into the future,” Anthony Mazza said. “With our experience and with our energy, it’s our time now to take it and resurrect it.”