Frisco’s historic Blue Spruce Inn changes hands
Frisco, CO Colorado
FRISCO, Colorado –After 22 years in the hands of Annie and Travis Holton, Charlie Eazor has become the new caretaker of the Blue Spruce Inn, in Frisco.
Luckily, Eazor understands the legacy of the 62-year-old restaurant, and his first and foremost “strategic plan” involves preserving the rich history and the tradition of quality.
Annie Holton acted as a “custodian” for the Blue Spruce’s long reputation of excellence. She focused on creating low staff turnover (some employees have been there for 15 years) and great dishes that kept locals coming back and visitors returning year after year.
“Annie was the heart and soul behind the Blue Spruce,” said Travis Holton, who centered his attention more on Pug’s.
But, after more than two decades, the Holtons decided they wanted to slow down a bit.
“Our daughters have both gone to college, and we wanted a little more time to pause and reflect – and focus more on the growth of Pug’s and the brewery,” Travis Holton said, adding that he plans to increase brewing capacity and can more of Pug’s beers because now, only the Morningwood Wheat comes in a can.
Of course, the question begs to be asked: Will Blue Spruce still serve Pug’s beer? The answer: A resounding yes. It’s part of the contractual purchase and lease agreement.
“We have a great relationship with the new owners,” Travis Holton said, “and (keeping) the beer seems like an obvious choice.”
Eazor and his investment partner – and brother – Joseph Eazor, discovered the Blue Spruce in late March, after it had been on the market for about six months. Charlie Eazor lived in Centennial, Colo., but he and his wife began to spend more time in Breckenridge after his brother bought a second home there. Charlie Eazor had been a business consultant, specializing in business turnaround, for the past five years, after owning a telecommunications company. Tired of travel and interim work where he suggested changes but never saw the results, he began to seek out a business opportunity in Summit County.
“As I visited with Annie and Travis Holton and learned more about the legacy of this establishment, it just became more and more intriguing,” Charlie Eazor said.
The two men closed on the sale in the beginning of July, and though they plan to follow seasonal menu changes, they don’t plan on changing anything regarding employees, high standards and favorite dishes. Charlie Eazor has conducted more than 170 written guest surveys, and on a scale of 1-10, greeting, service, meals and ambiance have rated between 9.4 to 9.94.
“I met with Charlie, and he’s a really smart man,” Travis Holton said. “He’s looking at it (as) ‘how can I take what’s really good and make it better?'”
Some of the extras he’s already implemented include handing a rose to ladies after dinner on Fridays and Saturdays and offering plenty of live entertainment.
“People come here not because they’re hungry,” Charlie Eazor said. “They come here to have an enjoyable evening.”
The new owners plan to cater to visitors and locals alike, especially through nightly specials, off-season menu values and airing all of the NFL games on six flat-screen televisions.
“A business that starts with the customer first and works its way back from there stays vibrant and successful over the long term,” Charlie Eazor said.
But what about taking over a business in a down economy?
Charlie Eazor thinks it would take an inordinate amount of patience, extraordinary working capital, or both, if he were starting from scratch. But with the Blue Spruce’s track record, he knows what he’s getting into. Though this year’s revenues have fallen from 2007 and 2008 levels, he’s confident that it’s still a very successful business.
“This was not a turnaround,” he said. “It’s like finding an old collectible in the garage and saying I want to polish it up and make it as valuable as possible.”
That polishing will come in the simple form of painting, refinishing the saloon floor and repaving the parking lot.
In the meantime, Charlie Eazor plans on enjoying his new-found piece of paradise. He takes walks down Main Street twice a day, relishing in the scenery and laid-back atmosphere.
“This is a glorious area,” he said. “It just felt right from the first time. How could you not fall in love with Summit County – and once you’re in Summit County, how could you not fall in love with Main Street, Frisco?”
Travis and Annie Holton feel just about the same, even after 20-some years in business.
“Since 1987, we’ve had the best staff and the best customers that anyone would wish for,” Travis Holton said, “and we want to say a big thank you.”