Joe Staufer – a determined restaurateur
It wasn’t long before he became the food and beverage manager, and within a year, his friend Martin left Vail. At the end of the first year, Sigi Faller, The Lodge manager, left, too. Staufer took over as manager in the summer of 1963 – a rapid rise from that first job in the cafeteria.
Sigi Faller, like every opening manager, had his problems. The investors’ expectations were much greater than the realities. They had to blame somebody, and it was the manager they were going to blame.
“That’s why I wouldn’t be an opening manager in any hotel – nine out of 10 don’t last a year,” Staufer said.
Faller went to the Broadmoor, where he had a successful career as food and beverage manager until his retirement a few years ago.
Although The Lodge was losing money, they didn’t want to open in the summer.
“Dick Hauserman convinced them that if they ever wanted to be a year-round resort, they’d have to be open in the summer,” Staufer said.
As it turned out, not only did The Lodge operate that summer – it didn’t lose any money. The Lodge was a limited partnership. Overall, it lost a minimum of $100,000 a year for five years and Vail Associates wanted to sell it. Staufer seized that opportunity and, with Gordon Brittan, tried to put a package together to buy it. They came close, but they lost to Ross Davis and his partners.
During the first summer, it was too expensive to fire up the boilers for the kitchen because of the way it was set up. There was a little room off the bar that had a fireplace, so Staufer put charcoal in there and cooked trout, steak and pork chops – a very limited menu. There were just a few intimate tables. But the customers loved it, and the restaurant was popular.
When Vail wanted to sell The Lodge, a management company was brought in, but the arrangement didn’t work.
“I gave them my notice,” Staufer said. “I was upset about it. I left and went to Palm Springs.”
Staufer was ambitious – he had goals and moved ahead rapidly. He and his wife, Ann, had become beloved members of the growing community of Vail, and the folks missed them. They got together and decided they wanted the Staufers back, and they were persuaded to move back after a couple of months. They really didn’t like Palm Springs.
Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 100th installment, an excerpt from chapter 12, “The Ever-Increasing “New Locals.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.