Fearing sales, workers dream of a utopian future for Minturn Saloon

Minturn Saloon workers Erin Kelly, right, and Daniella Bellerose at the Minturn Saloon. Workers fear the Minturn Saloon will be changed or removed by new owners and are trying to raise enough funds to convert the business into an employee-owned establishment.
Courtesy photo

MINTURN – An employee-owned cooperative with managers elected by workers. A historical council overseeing the presentation and preservation of all artefacts. A guarantee of sustainability for the much-loved status quo of the establishment.

These are among dreams of a utopian future at the Minturn Saloon, in which the 120-year-old building, one of the last remnants of the Old West in Eagle County, continues to operate as it is now. , saluting Minturn Mile. riders with fries and margaritas after their adventure.

To Save The Saloon, Current Employees Look To Where Dreams Come True In The Age Of Social Media – GoFundMe.com. Their spokesperson, Saloon employee Daniella Bellerose, said a worker-owned future for the restaurant would be the best scenario.

“I wouldn’t want to become a single restaurant owner,” Bellerose said. “I’ve been in the business for 30 years, I know better.”

A cooperative ownership model, however, where employees share the income, could create an environment where every employee is invested in the health of the business.

Bellerose said that a desirable outcome for the Saloon’s current situation would be to purchase the business with GoFundMe funds, with ownership shares returned to current employees. These employees would have votes on a board of directors that would elect officers and share the profits.

The Minturn Saloon is one of the last remnants of the Old West in Eagle County.
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This is a situation that Saloon enthusiasts may be inclined to preserve through crowdfunding because, in addition to the uniqueness of the Saloon, the employees there have a longevity that is not often seen in the service environment. from the Vail area.

“We have restaurant workers who have been there for 36 years, 28 years, 17 years,” Bellerose said. “At six and a half, I’m still a beginner.”

Bellerose said a desirable outcome would see some of the profits reinvested in the business, pursuing such efforts as a historic designation for the building (“it’s a museum,” Bellerose says, emphasizing “Is”) and the remaining profits would be distributed among the board of directors, which is the employees.

“Honestly, that could make it the best restaurant in the valley, for sure,” Bellerose said. “Because everyone is involved. Wouldn’t it be like I dropped the silverware in the trash? Ahh shit. ‘”

GoFundMe “Like the packers”

But where would that leave all of the heroes who donate to GoFundMe to save the Saloon?

“It would be like the Green Bay Packers,” Bellerose said.

This way, contributors would receive a share of the business, but that share would not pay dividends.

Sports Illustrated describes the Packers action as a chance for people to receive “a souvenir certificate to hang on the wall, the chance to purchase exclusive shareholder merchandise and an invitation to the annual shareholders meeting at Lambeau Field during the training camp”.

Bellerose believes something similar might be enough to inspire the Minturn Saloon’s thousands of dedicated patrons to help save it.

“I just don’t want to leave,” Bellerose said.

And that’s a possibility. Bellerose says you don’t have to venture far from the Saloon to see examples of cherished establishments lost to modernization.

Ways to see

As writer John Berger describes in his book “Ways of Seeing”, the way people see things “is affected by what we know or what we believe”.

In Minturn, seeing the museum atmosphere of the Saloon in any meaningful way depends on the employees and what they know.

Plus the margaritas are really good.

As you enjoy a margarita at the bar, you might see autographed photos of baseball players and perceive them as the regular wall hangings of a Yankees fan of yesteryear.

But seen through the prism of history in Minturn, steeped in what we know of those who work there, we learn that the Saloon is Eagle County’s great link to the Yankees, as it was owned and operated by former Yankee Bob Cherry from 1976 to 1986 Cherry was friends with John Wayne, so Wayne’s autographed photo came to grace the place.

Cherry’s short tenure in the building’s long history as a restaurant and bar is just one of many interesting pieces of history dating back to the 1830s, when the back bar was “built in Missouri and is arrived here after staying in Leadville, “you’ll learn from the employees. The building was constructed in 1901 following a fire in the commercial section of downtown Minturn in 1899.

The current owners of Saloon took over after Cherry in 1986 became loved by employees, Bellerose said, but after 35 years the owners feel they should leave the company. While any investor idea is welcome, current staff fear that an alternative to the employee-owned model threatens what gives the company its current character.

“We love our jobs and we love the people who come in,” Bellerose said.