Historic Turntable Restaurant & Motel in Minturn keeps churning with new owners
October 16, 2016
MINTURN — The Turntable has been an iconic staple in Minturn since the town was formed, and with new owners taking over, it will open again in mid-December new and improved, but with the same Minturn touch it's known for.
It was scheduled for demolition in the 1990s when the railroad began disposing of all of its structures, but a town petition helped keep it running. And when longtime owner Darla Goodell passed away last year, the future of the Turntable was unknown.
Co-owners of Westside Cafe in West Vail Mike Dennis and Steve Solomon along with their partner Ryan Thompson took over the restaurant and motel in September.
"Darla was one of the main hearts of the town. She had a huge heart and she's dearly missed," said councilmember Earle Bidez. "But I think this is an exciting opportunity. I was happy to see that they're going to maintain the name and try to maintain what the Turntable was over the years."
And while Elvis, Denver Broncos memorabilia and vintage photos of Minturn have covered the walls for years, the new owners hope to put their own spin on the design, focusing on the deep, vibrant history of the town.
"It has a rich history, and that excites us," Dennis said. "We're excited to be in the Turntable. It's really our style."
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'A lot of Nostalgia to it'
The establishment is keeping its name, but the menu is still being worked out. Boo's Burritos, green chile, the malts — the new owners hope to keep some of the classic items, and so do the locals.
"I remember Saturday and Sunday mornings going in there, it was me and everybody from the Forest Service," said David Probst. "It was really good, homestyle cooking, kind of like comfort food. It had a lot of nostalgia to it, so it staying the Turntable is good to hear."
Bidez has fond memories of the Minturn Table Burger, a burger with grilled onions, cheese and a side of fries "for not a whole lot of money," he said.
At Westside Cafe, Dennis and Solomon pride themselves on comfort food — hearty ingredients with large portions — and they are expecting to do the same thing at the Turntable.
"We're certainly going to try to stick to what we do — value and service to community," Dennis said.
Upgrades to the restaurant include a grab-and-go, similar to what Westside Cafe does, as well as an improved outdoor deck ready to await skiers and snowboarders finishing the Minturn Mile out of Vail this winter.
The new owners also intend to renovate and upgrade the motel part of the Turntable, which has about 62 rooms. They intend to make a mix of nightly and short-term use with seasonal, long-term use.
And the trailers sitting on the property in rough shape?
"We're going to do something really exciting with them," Dennis said. "It's just not approved."
Below the restaurant is the old railroad turntable, which was used to turn around locomotives and send them on their way. There's black and white photos from back then from the time a locomotive wrecked into the restaurant, sitting idly half in and half out.
"Minturn's history is so deeply rooted in that railroad system, and to be a part of bringing that back, and at least saving a little bit of that heritage is awesome," Dennis said.
Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.