Nibbles: Restaurant happenings in the Vail Valley |

Nibbles: Restaurant happenings in the Vail Valley

Caramie Schnell
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail Daily file photoVail Valley Nibbles: Daughter father duo and co-owners of Swiss Hot Dog Simone Larese, left, and Ernst Larese inside their Avon restaurant.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –Who knew the power of Facebook in the Vail Valley? A few months back Simone Larese, co-owner of the Swiss Hot Dog in Avon, used Facebook to promote a contest for the company she runs with her father and founder, Ernst.

The contest asked people to design a functional Web site for the longtime eatery for a chance to win a free dog every day for life. She wrote to all of Swiss Hot Dog’s Facebook friends. The Vail Daily heard about the contest and wrote a story about it as well.

Well, it worked. Simone e-mailed an update to the Vail Daily last week. Nearly 50 people were interested in making the site, she said, but ultimately local resident Harald Fricker got the job.

“When Harald contacted me I thought ‘Voila, this is the guy,'” Simone said via e-mail. “Ironically I’ve known this guy my entire life but didn’t know he built Web sites for a living. Plus, both our families hail from Europe – his Germany, mine Austria – and so they always hung out together and shared stories of Europe and how weird it was to have ‘American kids.'”

And since Fricker is the son of the “famous Helmut Fricker, it would be rude not to have chosen him,” she wrote.

Fricker had the site up and running within days, all for a dog a day. The site is live and, beginning this month, customers can buy boxes of the popular veal-and-pork dogs through the site and have them shipped overnight anywhere in the U.S. Visit to see the finished product.

Now Simone is busy trying to “expand the business into a global franchise like Starbucks,” she said, and recently traveled to Tokyo, Paris and Beijing to explore the possibility. Her latest Facebook post offers up the idea that the company would make for a good reality TV show.

“Working with my father is fairly insane, if not down right hilarious, to those who have the right sense of humor,” Simone wrote, signing the post “Simone Larese, part-time owner though fired often.”

According to Simone, a few people are already interested in making it a show, “given that it is already a comedy,” she said.

“It would be very funny – Austrian cantankerous father, disciplinarian and ex-French Foreign Legionnaire – he was a kid in Austria at the end of WWII as well – who hates change versus American daughter, and heir apparent to the Swiss Hot Dog business, who only wants change and plans to expand the business.”

Now that sounds like a good drama.

Officially Restaurant Kelly Liken turned five on May 29, but Liken and her staff are celebrating all summer long.

“It’s exciting,” Liken said over the phone. “Some days it feels like its been a lot longer than five years but most days it feels like we just opened yesterday. I feel like we’ve come so far in five years and it’s a nice milestone.”

The restaurant is celebrating by offering a five-course menu for $55 per person. The menu highlights some of Liken’s most popular dishes over the last five years, including green tomato gazpacho, elk carpaccio with bulgur tabbouleh and mustard aioli, housemade mascarpone tortellini with summer vegetables and crispy artichoke, and potato-crusted trout filets with haricots verts, pea shoots and lemon beurre blanc. Add wine pairings to the dinner for an extra $25. The specials are good through Labor Day.

Last September, Liken, a Culinary Institute of America grad, was featured in Bon Appetit magazine. The piece highlighted six women chefs in the country who are “breaking ground and taking charge.”

In the piece, Liken was quoted as saying “I would publicly like to thank every person who made me work harder, who pushed me – unfairly, I thought at the time – who made me cry, who put too much stuff on my station, who took bets on whether I was going to burn the nuts. Because today, I am so much better off. I can look at myself and see that I am a markedly better technician than the people I was standing next to 10 years ago.”

Have a restaurant Nibble you’d like to share with Vail Daily readers? E-mail High LIfe editor Caramie Schnell at

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