Mirabelle Restaurant celebrates 40 years

The historic Beaver Creek establishment is known for its authentic, ranch-house feel and freshly sourced ingredients

The Mirabelle Restaurant is located in a historic farmhouse built by homesteaders in 1898.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The Mirabelle Restaurant in Beaver Creek is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, 23 of which have been under the leadership of head chef Daniel Joly.

The Mirabelle Restaurant is located at the base of Beaver Creek, just before the gated entrance, though at first glance it is hard to tell that it’s a commercial restaurant. The charming farmhouse is a historic landmark built by homesteaders in 1898, and used to be an active ranch when Avon was home to cabbage and potato farmers.

“If I start to dig here for planting, I’ll find a whole piece of (a) tool from a farmer,” Joly said. “This little acreage here, it’s got a lot of history.”

The history of the property is what drew Chef Joly to it in the early 1990s. He and his wife had recently immigrated to the United States from Belgium to work at a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, but were steered onto a different course after a hurricane flooded the restaurant. Joly followed a lead out to the Vail Valley in 1991, where he began working under the original owner of the Mirabelle, a Frenchman and local resident Luc Meyer.

When given the opportunity to buy both the property and the restaurant in 1999, Joly knew that this was the perfect place for the style of food and atmosphere that he had always envisioned for his own establishment.

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Head Chef Daniel Joly plates a dish in the Mirabelle kitchen.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

“The difference with Mirabelle is that it just has a soul,” Joly said. “It’s an old building, people live here, it’s part of what Vail was before it became a famous resort, and I think a lot of people connect with that.”

After the purchase, Joly and his family moved onto the property, and still live on the second floor of the ranch house. He said that he intends to make every patron feel like they are a guest in his home, which in many respects, they are.

“It makes people rethink fancy restaurants, because I think we’re very humble, very homey,” Joly said. “When you go into a restaurant you don’t want to be like, ‘Which silverware do I need to use?’ We want to make people comfortable, it’s very important.”

Emphasis on ingredients

In keeping with the background of its two owners, the food at the Mirabelle typically has French and Belgian influences, though Joly said that the driving force of the menu is the quality of ingredients.

Being the owner of the property allows Joly to take advantage of investments and resources that are not available to most restaurants in the valley. In 2017, he installed a greenhouse just behind the restaurant where staff can grow and pick fresh herbs and vegetables to use in their dishes. Much of the produce used in the dishes is grown on-site, and Joly makes it a priority to use seasonal ingredients.

Chef Daniel Joly trims fresh herbs in the restaurant's greenhouse.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

“I’m not a magician, all I am is a chef,” Joly said. “If I get something very good, it’s very easy to make it taste good. I cannot make a can of beans taste like caviar. Our job is to represent the farmer and be specific about buying the very best we can, buying organic and all that good stuff, and giving that to the customer.”

The chef’s respect for the quality of ingredients comes across in his dishes, where he said he tries to elevate the experience of a central ingredient in each plate, rather than overcrowding the palette. Meats, fish and veggies are heightened by artfully crafted sauces and garnishes, which swirl together to create an entirely new flavor profile while keeping each element clearly identifiable.

The food and atmosphere have earned Mirabelle countless five star reviews from satisfied customers, as well as many of the industry’s most prestigious accolades. Most recently, the restaurant received a four-star rating from the Forbes Travel Guide for 2022.

While the reviews and accolades are clear indicators of success, Joly doesn’t take too much time to bask in the glory. Instead, he focuses on maintaining that same level of quality for every person who comes through the Mirabelle’s doors.

​​”We’re only as good as our next meal, that’s what I tell my guys,” Joly said. “If today we serve two people and we do great, we did something good. If tomorrow we serve 100 people and we do great, we did something good. That’s my philosophy.”

Meats, fish and veggies are heightened by artfully crafted sauces and garnishes, which swirl together to create an entirely new flavor profile while keeping each element clearly identifiable.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Family ties

The Mirabelle is a family business, and that sense of community extends to its staff as well. Walking into the restaurant at the end of the day, it’s normal to find Joly sharing laughs with his staff members over a glass of wine in the cozy common area. Some staff members, such as the bartender of 32 years, have been at the restaurant for as long or longer than Joly himself, and are equally committed to maintaining its culture and quality.

“It’s such a hard time finding good staff now, and we are so lucky,” Joly said. “So many people have been with us for years, and they stay with us, and that to me is really a sign of success.”

With all of the dramatic changes that have taken place in the valley over the past 40 years, Joly knows that the land he owns has become a goldmine, but he has no intentions to sell. He knows that he is preserving an important piece of history, and wants to maintain the authentic experience of a family-owned company amid the growing presence of international brands and big money in the valley.

The Mirabelle farmhouse maintains a warm, homey atmosphere.
Chris Dillmann/Courtesy Photo

“I think it’s really cool to have something before when it was a farm town, to have something go from that generation to the generation we are in today. I think as a human, you get touched by that,” Joly said. “If I can create something really cool for the community and still do a good living, I think in the long run that would be very appreciated.”

Next generation

When Joly began working at the Mirabelle, he was 26 years old, a recent immigrant with no money and very few connections in the states. Now 30 years later, he is grateful for all of the opportunities that presented themselves, and proud of how far the restaurant has come.

“Some people say, ‘Oh you lived the American Dream, everything happened right for you,’ and I think in some respect I agree with that, but in the same respect I worked my butt off all the time and I just never stopped,” Joly said. “It’s been a fun ride, and we’ve been very blessed with everything that has happened to us, being an immigrant in this country and doing what we do.”

Looking ahead, Joly said he hopes to become a mentor, and bring in the next generation to help build the next 40 years of Mirabelle’s future.

“I want to put myself in a position where I can maybe help somebody younger, like I was helped,” Joly said. “I don’t want to be 90 years old and be the old chef cramping my kitchen. I want to try to elevate the best we can and see which way we can make it even better. That’s what keeps you moving in this industry, is always questioning yourself and saying, ‘What did I do well? What can I do better?'”

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