Vail Valley: New owners settling in at Paddy’s |

Vail Valley: New owners settling in at Paddy’s

Scott N. Miller
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyRobb, left, and Susan Swimm recently bought Paddy's restaurant and bar in Eagle-Vail. The couple say they want to bring new energy and some new ideas to the longtime locals' spot.

Old restaurant gets some new energy

EAGLE-VAIL – When Robb and Susan Swimm closed the deal to buy Paddy’s, the first thing they did was close for a few days.

The longtime local couple bought the Vail Valley restaurant and bar on Mother’s Day and promptly closed the place for some renovations. By the following Friday at 4 p.m., the bar and restaurant were open again with fresh paint, various repairs, new kitchen equipment and a host of other improvements.

“We had to be open by 4 p.m. on Friday for our regulars,” Susan Swimm said.

And the regulars had their regular drinks while work still swirled around them.

The Swimms are still getting the feel of their new business, but they seem to be accustomed to the idea that they now run a bar and restaurant in Eagle-Vail instead of an inn with an organic restaurant in Vermont. That’s where they were headed just a few months ago.

The couple had sold their two local homes and were ready to buy an 18-room inn. Then, in March, Susan told Robb “we can’t leave the valley.”

After a sleepless night trying to plot their future, Robb went to have a talk with former Paddy’s owner Ralph Dockery.

“Three weeks later we owned it,” Susan said.

While Robb has been in the hospitality business for just about his whole adult life, and the couple ran a bed and breakfast in St. Andrews, Scotland, this is their first shot at running a bar and restaurant.

And it didn’t take long for them to find out the kind of responsibility that comes with owning a place like Paddy’s. The bar and restaurant has been open in Eagle-Vail for nearly 30 years, and has long been a spot for bar patrons and families.

“We’ve found since we bought (Paddy’s) there’s a real desire to have it here,” Robb Swimm said.

But there are changes coming.

Besides the extensive freshening-up the Swimms gave the place, they also set up a stage for live music, put the arcade games over in the old pizza room, and – barflies will like this – decided to go big with beer.

The bar now has 14 different brews on tap and more in bottles in the cooler. The variety allows Paddy’s to serve a “true” black and tan – Guinness Stout and Harp Lager.

“Most of the black and tans you see are Guinness and Bass Ale,” said Susan, a native of Scotland. “It’s Irish beer and English beer and a real Irishman won’t stand for that.”

The Swimms also plan to put some authentic pub food on the menu, including meat pies and pasties, with recipes cribbed from the couple’s days in St. Andrews. And Robb, a Philadelphia native, claims the new Philly cheesesteak on the menu will be the most authentic one available in the valley. And Susan said the restaurant will use as much locally-grown produce as possible.

Even with the changes, there’s a lot that locals will recognize. The staff, for instance, all stuck around, and much of the menu will be familiar to regulars. That includes the jalapeno burger, a longtime favorite.

To help jump-start their ownership, the Swimms are also hosting a “no-cover summer,” bringing in live music every week with no cover charge.

“We’re really excited,” Susan said. “We’ve met great people and we feel really, really blessed.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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