Vail bistro strives for fast gourmet |

Vail bistro strives for fast gourmet

Sarah Mausolf, Vail, CO Colorado
NWS big bear bistro KA 12-30-08

VAIL ” On a powder day, skiers heading to the slopes don’t want to wait half an hour for a breakfast sandwich.

That’s why chef Brian Moore arrives early to work each morning at the Big Bear Bistro in Vail to make a few breakfast burritos, so they’ll be ready for customers.

“I can put it in a bag, hand it to you, and you can walk out and get on the slope or get back to work or whatever the case is in the morning,” said Moore, a former sous chef at Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail.

The Big Bear Bistro, which opened Friday, strives for fast gourmet fare. Customers should expect lunch sandwiches on ciabatta bread. For example, “The Phoenix” costs $9.95 and comes with roasted turkey, Monterey jack cheese, sprouts and a chipotle aioli.

“I designed the lunch menu to be almost like a New York deli,” said Moore, a 28-year-old Vail resident.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

For breakfast, food ranges from biscuit sandwiches to yogurt parfaits. Beginning at 4 p.m., a chalkboard lists apres ski specials such as meat and cheese plates. Prices at the Big Bear Bistro range from $2.50 for muffins to $12 for a cheese plate.

“We believe that the town had a niche here for a fun, moderately priced quality gourmet restaurant,” said bistro co-owner Leslie Mashburn, an Eagle-Vail resident.

Mashburn also owns Lakota Guides in Eagle-Vail. She teamed up with her neighbor, part-time Vail skiing instructor Vidette Gehl, 49, to launch the Big Bear Bistro.

“To me, it’s a fantasy thing to own a place in the town of Vail,” Mashburn said. “I wouldn’t do this anywhere else. I always wanted to have a place on Bridge Street.”

The women renovated this small, 825-square-foot nook. The space had been vacant since Blizzard’s deli closed this past spring. Big Bear Bistro owners added a new kitchen, granite-topped tables and seating for 15 additional people, bringing the total dining capacity to 31. They declined to disclose how much they spent on renovations.

The result of the makeover, they say, is a comfortable, causal space where people can bring their kids. Along with adult beverages such as wine and beer, the bistro offers hot chocolate.

“We ski with our kids. We have a lot of friends who ski with their kids,” Gehl said. “We want a glass of wine. They want a hot chocolate. There’s very few places where you can get both.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or

Support Local Journalism