Joe Staufer – "What a success story’
Ted Kindel, who built the Christiana, asked Staufer to join him. Staufer spent a year with Kindel when Pete Seibert asked him to take over The Lodge again because it had run into some serious problems with the present management. That didn’t work out either, because Vail Associates was trying to sell The Lodge.
About that time in 1965, Charley Gersbach and his partners John Amato and Vince Dominico persuaded Staufer to work at Manor Vail and run the Lord Gore Restaurant. This sounded attractive to Staufer, who left The Lodge, which was soon sold to a group from Denver. He was much happier at Manor Vail and made the Lord Gore into one of the most attractive restaurants in Vail.
While manager at Manor Vail and the Lord Gore, Staufer met Peter Cremaris and Joanne Hill, who owned an apartment at the Christiana. Cremaris took a shine to Staufer and told him that if he was interested in doing something bigger around the area, Cremaris would help him. Peter and Joanne dined often at the Lord Gore Club, where Joe had hired Walter Moritz, from Chicago, as his chef. Moritz went on to greater things himself and, with his wife Marie Claire, started St. Moritz Restaurant.
In 1968, Cremaris and Staufer formed Cremaris Inc. and made an offer to buy the Plaza Building on Bridge Street. They also bought La Cave Restaurant from Jim Slevin. A week later, Cremaris wanted Staufer to go to the Wedel Inn to show him something. He told Staufer to look at Bob Lazier’s apartment on the third floor, then asked what he thought. They could have the Wedel Inn for $440,000. Staufer told Cremaris to go for it. Can you imagine – they acquired La Cave, the Wedel Inn, and the Plaza Building all within two months. Because they needed staff housing, they bought a little building from Chris Hall on the corner opposite today’s athletic club, and across the street from the parking structure, for $40,000. It was recently on the market for $1.5 million. In the space of just a few years, Staufer went from managing Mid-Vail to becoming a major partner in real-estate and hotel management.
The Vail Village Inn, owned by Ray Hankammer and his group, had worse problems than The Lodge at Vail. They lost more than $200,000 every year. Peter Cremaris brought in another friend of his, Micky Deloge, who had always wanted to buy something in Vail but didn’t want to be involved in running anything. On June 1, 1969, they bought the Vail Village Inn for $1 million. Joseph Staufer and Peter Cremaris then had a partnership that owned the Plaza, the Wedel Inn, La Cave Restaurant, Chris’s Closet and the Vail Village Inn.
Things didn’t continue to run smoothly, however. There was some friction with Joanne Hill, Peter Cremaris’s wife. She was known to have tantrums. When Peter moved his office to the Vail Village Inn, she felt he had betrayed her, and she filed for divorce. Peter Cremaris got out of the Vail Village Inn, leaving Staufer with Micky Deloge as a partner. This all happened between 1970 and 1971. Deloge died a little later on, and Staufer bought out his share, becoming the sole owner of the Vail Village Inn. He sold it for $7 million. What a success story.
As Staufer says, “Yes – I am living proof that there is basically nothing wrong with this country.”
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 101st 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.