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Life will grind on, anyway

Kaye Ferry

Yesterday, yet another milestone was passed in the town of Vail – The Grind closed after 15 years on Bridge Street.

Not only have I been beseiged with pleas to change my mind, I have also been asked a thousand times if I regret making this decision. The answer is no and no. 15 years is enough for anyone.

But it’s been a long and interesting ride. The Grind has played an integral role in the town of Vail, starting up when coffee was the new rage and when there wasn’t a real hangout in the village. Soon the locals found the front door and an era began.



Thankfully, and for this I am eternally grateful, locals were always my strongest supporters. They have really been our backbone, particularly since it has changed to about 75 percent bar business.

While there have been many aspects of the business that I have loved, the thing I value the most is the people. I have developed many longstanding relationships with my customers. They have been a loyal group for a very long time and have supported The Grind through its evolution from a daytime coffee shop with poetry readings to its current status as one of the hottest bars on Bridge Street, complete with a wide variety of music that I have to admit sometimes hurts my ears – not because of the volume but because I was raised in a time when you could understand the words.



Then the people of the business community who to this day are some of my closest friends. We have struggled to survive together but also to make Vail a better place. We have organized the disorganized through the Merchants’ Association and now the Vail Chamber. We have fought for employee housing. We have staged events. We have argued for our ability to do business. We have developed programs like Turn It Up! that have become the hallmark of customer service training in the resort industry. We have survived the odds of war and a failing economy, and we have done it with the spirit of hope for a better business future.

And of course, last but not least, my many hundreds of employees. I have been quoted as calling them “my kids.” And that they have been. They’ve brought in all of their friends and they have become friends, too. While not all have been perfect, the majority of the young work force in Vail has been a delight. Their funky clothes and quirky way of viewing the world and us has been a constant source of fun, enlightenment and, sometimes, frustration. But they will always remain the greatest joy of the business and the thing I will miss the most.

The Grind has been a social center for the ski bum to the Wall Street executive to the LA celebrity. And they have balanced next to each other on whimsical stools with little concern for each other. Some have called the place tacky. Others have complained it didn’t fit the Vail image. But far more would tell you that has its charm. No pretenses. Just a place to hang out.



But all eras end. Surely some newer, sleeker version of a modernday coffee house will pop up. But as I have been reminded over and over, there’ll never be another Grind – an institution has closed and Bridge Street will never be the same. Thanks for 15 memory-packed years.

While the store won’t be around any more, I will. I’m going to continue to serve on the many boards and volunteer for the many projects that keep the ball rolling for the business community. And, of course, I will still continue to teach skiing and to write in my role as the Wednesday columnist.

Quick count

1: What’s wrong With Don (Rogers, that is)? Of all people, you’d think he’d get it. He won’t ski Vail on the weekends because of parking. He knows we had some REALLY close calls last year and we’re an accident waiting to happen. He should know that the convention committee hasn’t even decided on a research firm, much less done any studies, much less made any recommendations to the TC, much less received a decision to move forward, much less approved an architect, much less hired a builder, much less moved through the approval process, much less, much less, much less.

And he still thinks we should put off a parking solution, however temporary. All of this when for the first time in recorded history, the town of Vail and Vail Resorts have agreed that something MUST be done. And quick.

Even the stalwart opponents of EVER touching Ford Park have agreed to its temporary use as a solution. What does this guy not get? Or is he just arbitrary because that’s his job? I’ll say it again, I hope that’s the case. Because if he really believes what he writes, poor Don.

2: Says who? On Saturday, July 11 a column appeared in this spot that listed a group of village businesses that are “doing well,” “along with many others.”

I know that several of those owners/managers were not contacted and are not happy that their names were used without their input or consent. I know one merchant called to express displeasure and was told, “Gee, every time I walk by your place you look busy.”

I guess some people take great liberties with standards of research. So it just goes to show, you can’t believe everything you read in the newspaper. But you do need to learn which columnists you can trust. Some just make things up.

3: Just great! Did you get out this weekend? We had Hazel Miller at one end and the NY Phil at the other with the Sports Fest and Soccer Tournament in between. Wow!

4: OOPS! The first meeting on the economy was June 26, not July 8 as reported last week. Sorry.

Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the TC call 479-1860 X 8 or email towncouncil@ci.vail.co.us. To contact Vail Resorts call 476-5601 or email vailinfo@vailresorts.com. For past columns, vaildaily.com-search:ferry.

Kaye Ferry, founding president of the Vail Chamber and Business Association, is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily.


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