‘The days fly by’
EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado – Ollie Holdstock’s a lucky man. Just ask him.
Holdstock, owner of the Route 6 Cafe, has lived in the Vail Valley for nearly 30 years. He works plenty, as entrepreneurs do. But if it’s a powder day, he’s probably on the mountain. And in the summer, he and his wife put thousands of miles on their motorcycles and mountain bikes.
It’s a good life, and a long, long way from Holdstock’s hometown of Chester, England.
Holdstock started his professional life as an industrial chemist, working in a factory for eight long, unsatisfying years. Realizing that life as a chemist wasn’t working out, Holdstock made a switch, to the restaurant business.
Working at a nightclub in London, Holdstock met a group of businessmen from Oklahoma City, who recruited him and several friends to open a new club there.
Holdstock didn’t stay long, and soon was traveling the country in a camper, hitting 30 states before spending a summer surfing in Southern California. A friend there suggested he come to Vail for the winter.
“I’d been through Colorado already and I loved it,” Holdstock said. So he packed up his truck and came to Vail, where his rig broke down on Arosa Drive. He hasn’t left for long since.
“I used to go back and forth from Vail to California,” he said. “But I chose Vail for the people – and the lack of people. I always felt at home here.”
And he quickly felt at home on skis, and knew right away the sport would always be part of his life.
After working just about every restaurant and bar job but chef over the years, Holdstock was well-settled in Vail when he and some partners bought the old Eagle-Vail Cafe eight years ago. They re-named the place the Route 6, and have been serving breakfast, lunch and camaraderie ever since.
That fellowship includes the customers, of course, but also includes the staff. Just about all the kitchen crew has been at the cafe since day one, and the “new girl” on the wait staff has been on the job four years.
“I worked for so many restaurant people, so many idiots, I decided I’d never treat my staff the way I was treated,” Holdstock said.
Guests are treated well, too, and have returned hospitality at the Route 6 with their own. The walls are covered with all kinds of art and knick-knacks. Virtually all of them have come from customers.
In one corner is a custom-made wooden sign, made by fellow local Lew MesKimen. In the northeast corner of the restaurant is a painting of the cafe, made by a patron saved from choking by another customer.
Holdstock treasures every piece of friendship displayed on the walls, and the regulars who keep the cafe running.
“I get the rewards of seeing friends come in – many of them have kids,” he said. “They were babies and now they’re eight years old. It’s awesome.”
But while work has plenty of rewards, Holdstock sits squarely on the “work to live” end of the work-life balance spectrum.
“The real reason I bought a restaurant is to support my life in Vail,” Holdstock said. “I enjoy the outdoor life. I still ski 60 to 70 days a season.”
Holdstock and his wife, Alex, still live in a small condo in West Vail, close to a bus stop so they can ride into Vail Village.
He enjoys the whole ritual of getting ready for a ski day, from getting his gear together to the walk to the bus to strolling across the Covered Bridge for the umpteenth time.
“I’m proud I’ve managed to stay here this long – 27 years has gone by like that,” he said. “The days fly by – that’s how you know you’re living life.”
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