Tyrolean Restaurant says ‘auf Wiedersehen’
Fine dining in Vail is a little less special. The Tyrolean Restaurant has closed its doors for good.After 33 years in the Vail restaurant business, owner Pepi Langegger is shutting down the restaurant. The 5,500-square-foot space on East Meadow Drive is under contract for sale to developers who intend to convert the space to residential condominiums. The closing is set for early July. The reasons for the sale are somewhat complicated, Langegger said. But, he added, “It’s been a successful restaurant. Even at the end, we didn’t have to sell.”Still, a combination of changing clientele, a stagnant business environment and family factors all figured into the final decision to sell.
Langegger’s son, Sigmund, has been running the restaurant for the last several years. With Sigmund wanting to try other ventures, his father didn’t want to get back into the day-to-day restaurant business in Vail, especially since the family also owns the Golden Eagle restaurant in Beaver Creek.”Everything in life has to change,” Langegger said. But for more than three decades, the family’s restaurant has been an institution in Vail. In fact, the original restaurant at the site gave its name to the portion of Meadow Drive that runs in front of it. Old-time locals still call the steep street out front the “Blue Cow Chute.”The original Blue Cow opened in 1969 and featured live entertainment with an Austrian theme. Langegger bought the restaurant in 1971, continuing the shows and, at one point, offering sleigh rides from hotels in the village.In 1975, the restaurant’s name changed to the Tyrolean, and In 1980, Langegger dropped the entertainment, remodeled, and added the existing condominiums. Over the years, the restaurant became well-known for its offerings of game meat, fine wine and great service.Over the years, though, the restaurant’s clientele changed with the times. Mostly, Langegger said, the Tyrolean was affected by families taking shorter vacations.
“Twenty years ago people came for two weeks,” Langegger said. “Then it was 10 days, and now it’s three or four days. At our location, that’s hard. This is a destination … people have to know about it.”Another trend that hit the Tyrolean is that many families forego fine dining in favor of “a bite” in the evening, Langegger said. “We’ve won a lot of awards over the years. I don’t know if that means much any more,” he added.The Tyrolean space was originally put on the market as a restaurant. There were no takers, so the space was sold for other uses. Langegger said he was a little disappointed the space couldn’t remain a restaurant, but noted that the demand for second homes seems to trump retail space these days.”The business changes,” Up the Creek restaurant owner Peter Stadler said. “All the faithful customers are changing.”And running a restaurant – already a tough business – gets even tougher when most of the regular customers are returning visitors. “Vail needs people living in town,” Langegger said.But while business had stalled for the Tyrolean over the last few years, Langegger is still optimistic about Vail’s future. “Vail will come back,” he said. “But it’s going to be a few years, when all this work is done.”
Stadler, who worked at the restaurant when it was the Blue Cow, said he’s saddened by the Tyrolean’s passing.”It’s kind of a shame,” Stadler said. “But I guess it had to happen. I just hope we don’t go away next.”Going, going…Restaurant equipment, supplies and furnishings from the Tyrolean Restaurant will be sold at auction on July 1. Viewing starts at 9 a.m.; the auction begins at 11 a.m. Everything from flatware to kitchen equipment will be sold, including an antique logging sled that came off the Nottingham Ranch.
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Lindsey Vonn no longer has a home in Vail, but a big piece of her heart will always remain here.