Edwards’ Riverwalk Theater adds barbecue, coffee shop
Adding to food, beverage offerings was always part of owners' plans, but were crystallized by COVID-19 outbreak
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The screens are dark at the Riverwalk Theater in Edwards, so owner Grant Smith has had to adapt, with a smoker and espresso machine among his tools.
Smith and his wife, Katherine, had plans to expand the theater’s offerings since they bought the business in 2018. The first step was a liquor license.
These days, the Riverwalk Theater has transformed into Smokin’ J’s BBQ and the Edwards Supply Co. The first business is self-explanatory.
Chef Eli Gerstein, a private chef and friend of the Smiths, is turning out brisket and sides for sale. Gerstein’s business had dwindled with the onset of COVID-19 and its associated shutdowns, so he was looking for an outlet, Smith said.
Smokin’ J’s BBQ will be available on Thursdays starting at noon and will be offered until they run out.
Edwards Supply Co. sells coffee, smoothies, sandwiches and snacks, which can be ordered online at riverwalktheater.com for pickup from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays.
Smith said ice cream sales were strong on April 11, the day before Easter, and “pretty slow” Easter Sunday. It was Easter, after all.
With the theater shut down, Smith said this is an opportunity to spotlight food and beverage sales at the theater.
“I have a feeling it’s going to go OK,” Smith said. Without the theater open, “It won’t be the same, without our core business operating. But we’re going to get creative and be as responsible as we can.”
On March 12, the day the NBA shut down its season, the theater canceled a community event, then allowed to just 25 people per showings in the theater. The Smiths shut the doors on March 16.
“We’re fortunate. … We didn’t have any employees get sick,” Smith said.
The food and beverage sales will have to carry the theater for at least a couple of months. Smith said he doesn’t expect any first-run Hollywood movies until at least July since the movie industry is also shut down.
Until then, Smith said the business “will rely on other options.”
Even when the theater can operate again, Smith said audiences will be limited.
“We’ll see how this plays out,” Smith said. “We’ll all find out together.”
Smith added he hopes the current shutdown helps the community come to a better understanding of how important small business is to the valley.
“I hope small businesses will rebound, and people will support (them). It’s what makes communities,” he said.
To learn more, go to riverwalktheater.com.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at email@example.com.