Mid-Vail polishes the details | VailDaily.com

Mid-Vail polishes the details

Cassie Pence
Shane Macomber/Vail Daily Mario Simo and Jan Michalovic serve up hot fresh penni sandwiches in part of a new addition to the Mid Vail resturant at the top of the Vista Bahn lift on Vail Mountain.

VAIL – The more than half a million dollars in changes made to Mid-Vail on-mountain eatery this season aren’t the kind you might notice right away, but they are refinements that will definitely enhance your lunch experience.Mid-Vail is located right in the middle of Vail Mountain and can be accessed from almost anywhere on the front side. It’s a 30,000-square-foot restaurant with many food-court-style outlets for munching. With the Vail Village and Lionshead renaissance in the works, General Manager John Bailey felt it was time to renovate Mid-Vail. There’s another renovation phase planned for this summer.The most noticeable change is the addition of a fire pit on the main deck, which is newly heated. Artist Tim Benedickt, owner of The Collaborative Fine Art gallery in Eagle-Vail, shaped iron to resemble logs and pine needles, albeit abstractly, to cover the flames. Holes in the sculpture release heat. Bailey’s crew dragged in red rock from Eagle’s Nest Ridge to form a sitting area around the fire.”You get an incredible view of the Gore Range, but you’re sheltered from the wind,” Bailey said.It was a conscious decision to incorporate local artists like Benedickt.”It is the direction we want to go in,” said Bailey.Charmayne Thevenet Bernhardt’s paintings hang on the wall in the Look Ma dining room, and she painted a pizza on the pizza oven exhaust fan jutting out from the building.Vintage ski photographs were hand picked from the Vail Resorts archives, blown up, framed and then hung on the walls all over the restaurant. It reminds you of simpler ski days.

Enhancing the ambianceUsing a little bit of paint, new lighting and updated hardware, like Formica countertops, Bailey has enhanced the ambiance on both the upper Look Ma level and the lower Terrace level of the Mid-Vail main building.”We opened up the Look Ma room, removed the flags that hung from the ceiling and brightened it up with earth-tone colors,” said Bailey.He added new awnings and menu boards on all the food court stations. He removed the circus canopy from the lower Terrace level, to free the room, and painted the dining area a light mint green and changed the ceiling color from brown to white. The whole effect is a airier, bigger-feeling room. There is also new carpeting throughout the building and nonslip floors. “We listened to comments and got ideas from the staff’s observations. We tried to make the most impact with what people would see,” Bailey said.Bailey even designed his own “grab-and-go” beverage counters to make it easier for guests as they check out.

Expanding the menuMid-Vail’s menu is all about variety. It offers three different soups a day, three types of chili, an extensive salad bar, sandwiches, grill items and a slew of vegetarian options.”It’s comfort food. Everything is homemade from scratch,” said Executive Chef Mark Bauerlein. “We’re a local’s favorite.”New with the renovation, Bauerlein has added New York style slices of pizza, paninis, some wrap choices and low-carb options. A panini is a sandwich traditionally made with a combination of meat, cheese and vegetables and then pressed on a panini grill. Bauerlein suggests the turkey pesto panini, but he also offers a special one each day, along with a pizza special. “All the food is fresh. I make small batches, it’s more work for the prep guys, but it ensures that the food isn’t sitting around. I try to not reheat anything because it degrades the product,” said Bauerlein.Service standards stay the sameWhat hasn’t changed at Mid-Vail is the service. Credited to Bailey, the return staff is as friendly, happy and as international as ever.

The team spirit is evident everywhere you go. Saturday night workers were staying late to build a snow sculpture in celebration of Vail Resorts’ safety week. Resident artist Ju Ju from Chile sketched the whole plan out.”When they pushed the pile of snow in front of Mid-Vail, a gorilla is the first thing I imagined. He’ll be a safety gorilla with a ski helmet and a family with a red-bottomed baby gorilla,” Ju Ju said.Ju Ju won the safety week snow sculpting contest the last two years.Mid-Vail is open from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. every day. For more information, call 479-4500.Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or cpence@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

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