Holiday business in Eagle County: Not booming, but better |

Holiday business in Eagle County: Not booming, but better

NWS Vail Village KA 1-17-11

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Over the years The Gashouse in Edwards has become a draw for locals and tourists alike. And, in a better year for business locally, the Edwards restaurant reports a “pretty good” Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

“We weren’t crazy, but we weren’t dead, either,” manager Jay Beacham said.

The story was a better kind of different at Mezzaluna in Vail, just off the ski slopes.

“We were really busy,” manager Matt Pauls said. “We’ve been busy over dinner, and have had really good crowds for late lunch and apres ski.”

In fact, Pauls said, Mezzaluna was starting jump again Monday afternoon.

At the Sebastian – the former Vail Plaza hotel right at the main entrance to town – the first season under new management has been a good one.

“It’s been very good so far,” said Sebastian sales and marketing director Annie Lynch. While the hotel wasn’t full over the weekend, Lynch said “We’re hitting our projected numbers. And with all the changes we’ve had, the lobby’s just alive.”

Lynch said business has also been good at Block 16, the fine dining restaurant in the hotel.

Besides people in hotels, visitors seem a little more willing to spend.

Deb Benjamin of Venture Sports in Avon said the store did a lot of rentals over the holiday weekend. But Benjamin said the store has also been selling, too.

“We’re definitely re-stocking product,” Benjamin said. “Even today, we’ve got product circulating.”

While people may be starting to move back toward buying from renting, the need for a deal is still strong.

In Edwards, Beacham said part of the draw at The Gashouse is “affordability.” And, while diners can buy expensive meals at the restaurant, “the high-end wine drinkers are few and far between,” he said.

Where the drive for value has really shown up – at least at The Gashouse – is at lunchtime.

“Dinner’s been strong through everything,” Beacham said.

While there were plenty of people in the valley over the weekend, Beacham and Betteridge Jewelers manager Rob Shay both said the King weekend is a little different than other holidays.

“This is more of a Front Range weekend,” Beacham said. “We’ll get the people in from Denver who have places here and come to the restaurant, but not a lot of other people.”

Shay said the King weekend “isn’t like Presidents’ Day,” in terms of both crowd size and their shopping habits.

Most of the customers in Betteridge Monday were locals and other regulars, Shay said. Most of the visitors were already headed home by mid-day.

“But it seemed like people were back in town,” Shay said. “We had a nice weekend – we had some sales.”

While the economy in the state and nation is showing some signs of life, it could be that the driving force behind visits is what it always has been in Vail – snow. Holiday weekends so far this season have come complete with new snow, and people have been on the hills and in the villages.

“We’re all just snow farmers at the end of the day,” Shay said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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