Edwards’ Gashouse still humming along | VailDaily.com

Edwards’ Gashouse still humming along

NWS Gashouse Profile DT 8-29-11

EDWARDS, Colorado – Most of the dining and drinking action in the valley was still in Vail in 1982, so Connie Irons bought an old gas station in Edwards and turned it into a bar. Nearly 30 years later, the Gashouse is a local landmark.

Irons and her former husband, Clay, opened the Gashouse in February of 1983 as a place to grab a beer or a cocktail and, maybe, a snack. It soon caught on and started serving meals. Over the years, the restaurant has received additions and upgrades, but it’s still a place locals and tourists gather.

But why buy a place in Edwards in 1982? Back then, Avon was still a young town and the resort at Beaver Creek wasn’t much older than a fledgling.

“The valley had to grow, and there was no room to expand in Vail” Connie Irons said.

And, while Edwards at the time was really, really “downvalley,” it was still just a few minutes from Vail down Interstate 70.

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“It was like a field trip for people there,” Irons said. “People wanted to get out of Vail to do something different.”

And the Gashouse was different. There was a hitching post out front, and it was used, frequently, by people who lived nearby. The old building was different, and soon filled with old license plates, animal heads and various other knickknacks that are always right at home in an old building.

Just as the Gashouse was catching on, Andy Guy rolled into town from Back East “just for the season.” Looking for a place to live, he ventured into the wilds of the county and stopped at the Gashouse for a beer.

“Within 10 minutes, I had a beer, a job and a place to live,” Guy said. He’s been involved with the restaurant to some degree ever since, and is now Irons’ partner in the business.

Guy has worked at some of the valley’s bigger restaurants, but at the Gashouse, he has to do a little bit of everything, from tending bar to waiting tables and washing dishes to fixing the never-ending little and big things that can go wrong with an old building.

“My toolbox is about the size of a filing cabinet,” he said.

Irons and Guy aren’t the only fixtures at the Gashouse. Many of the employees have worked there for years, too. And someone who hasn’t eaten at the place in 20 years will still immediately recognize much of the menu. There’s more fresh seafood than there was at the beginning, of course – Guy and Irons were sampling a new shrimp bisque the day of a recent visit – but the Gashouse still boasts one of the valley’s best cheeseburgers, which is, of course, a true mark of greatness for any restaurant located hard against a state highway.

“A lot of restaurants follow fads, but we don’t,” Guy said.

Something else a Rip van Winkle guest will notice is the mix of the crowds at dinner, especially during the ski season.

“We’ve always had a mix of locals and tourists,” Irons said. “You can come in for dinner and end up sitting next to a famous person.”

And while there are always improvements being made – the patio these days is especially nice – keeping things steady at the Gashouse is still the goal.

“We’ve always wanted to serve good food at a good price,” Irons said. “And we’re still doing that.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.

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