Elvis has entered the building
It’s morning at Minturn’s Turntable restaurant. Skiers pack a long table, shoveling down a Boo’s breakfast burrito while staring quizzically at a giant, empty, pink and black display case. They ask a waitress what’s going inside the case. The waitress chuckles and then answers that it’s a surprise for Valentine’s Day.It’s a surprise Minturn native and Turntable manager Darla Goodall has been excitedly preparing for a couple of months. It’s the sort of odd tourist attraction that can only be found in a funky old railroad town like Minturn.”We’ll unveil it on Valentine’s Day at 7 p.m.,” Goodall says. For those of you who aren’t too romantically inclined, that’s Friday, Feb. 14. Mark your calendars.While Goodall hasn’t been willing to show the future contents of the case to the public, she’s not shy about telling people it’s going to be a life-sized fiberglass Elvis Presley that’s the svelte ’50s Elvis, not the portly Las Vegas lounge lizard of the ’70s – and Marilyn Monroe.About two months ago, Goodall received a call from a friend who had been to a furniture store in Glenwood Springs, saw the life-sized figures and told the lifelong Elvis fan she’d better snatch up the fiber-King before he left the building.”I bought it over the phone, without seeing it first,” Goodall says of the Elvis figure.Goodall drove the more than 50 miles to pick up her Elvis and saw Marilyn Monroe next to him. She couldn’t resist having two of her favorite idols in the same room. She had the store owner throw in the famous likeness of Monroe holding down a billowing white dress. She had her boyfriend, Rick Davis, who split the purchase, secretly carry the figures to a back room in her apartment located behind the diner.”I told Rick that if we ever split up, he can have Marilyn, I’m keeping Elvis,” Goodall says.Then Goodall set out to plan her display in the Turntable’s dining room.She had local carpenter Paulo Hermosillo put together a display case that’s worthy of a detour from the cookie-cutter, ski resort experience found in the much of the rest of the Vail Valley.”We made the display case kind of cheesy; kind of 1950s flashy,” Goodall says.If buying life-sized figures of Elvis and Marilyn sounds compulsive, you either haven’t been to the Turntable or you’re just too interested in eating breakfast burritos and blue-plate specials to notice that the diner is part railroad museum, part doll collection and part tribute to Elvis. And that’s only part of the story.When Goodall lays her head down on a pillow at night, the last person she sees in her bedroom is Elvis. It doesn’t matter what direction Goodall turns her head, the King is plastered on every wall, including a crescent moon amidst a galaxy of stars painted to look like Presley.”I told my daughter ‘if you ever put me in a rest home, please send Elvis (the fiberglass version) with me,'” Goodall says.Goodall is old enough to remember when Presley made his famous some said scandalous – debut on the Ed Sullivan Show in the late 1950s. Because of the King’s swiveling, sexually suggestive hips, only his upper torso was shown on television. But that was enough to lure Goodall and millions of other fans into dedicating a lifetime to swooning over Presley and collecting his memorabilia.The Elvis-Minturn story can’t be told without revisiting an actual visit by the Kind of rock-n-roll to the mountain town. Back in the early ’70s, Presley was a guest at King’s Ranch, overlooking Minturn. Goodall says that she unfortunately didn’t hear of his presence until after the fact. But knowing the King had been nearby seems to be enough.”People told me he really liked it here and was considering buying King’ Ranch,” Goodall says. “It would’ve been his second Graceland.”So Goodall loves Elvis and she picked one of her favorite days, Valentine’s Day to celebrate his permanent residency at the Turntable – Elvis won’t be leaving the building after the unveiling. And Valentine’s Day at the Turntable doesn’t pass without fanfare, so unveiling Elvis and Marilyn will fit right into a shrimp-fest dinner, complete with homemade heart-shaped cookies and candies and a lot of lover’s day revelry that’s been going on in the local diner since 1980.”We do pretty good on Valentine’s Day,” Goodall says.Curious diners and lovers looking for an alternative to swanky bistros on Valentine’s Day don’t need reservations, but Goodall says the Turntable’s specials do tend to sell out fast .qThe Turntable is open from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, Friday, Feb. 14. And the special will be served starting at 5 p.m., with the Elvis-Marilyn unveiling sometime that evening. Call (970) 827-4164 for more info.
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