SOLD: The Crown Jewel of Harrison Avenue
Delaware, Casa B, Liquor Store Change Hands
By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today
Like the flowers in full bloom along historic Harrison Avenue so is the business news. Here’s a fresh bouquet of wildflower news from Leadville Today.
After months of rumors and speculation Leadville Today has verified that The Delaware Hotel changed ownership on June 24, 2021. Often touted as the crown jewel of lodging, the inn’s presence on the corner of 7th and Harrison began in 1886 built by John Callaway as a monument to his home state. As for what lies ahead for the operating hotel, LT sat down with one of the new ownership team members, David Chrisman for the details which were presented in a three-phase model, involving a “significant investment.”
Phase One of the hotel’s renovation addresses food and beverage, most presently the latter as the lobby bar is first on the list. While its Victorian charm will be maintained, the floor plan will open back up to its most recent-1990s renovation, removing all of the retail items and resurrecting the cocktail lounge concept with a stage for live music including a grand piano. While the lighter, present-day color palette of the room will shift to deeper blue-green hues according to the design concepts Chrisman shared with LT, guests will also notice an increase in natural light in the updated hotel lobby. Now that you’ve had a cocktail, what about dinner?
“If the chef from L.A. says yes to our offer, we can start the demo on the kitchen this week,” was Chrisman’s answer to the hotel restaurant’s status during LT’s July 6 interview. If that timeline – including the necessary upgrades to the kitchen facility for code alignments – goes according to plan, an end-of-year restaurant re-opening date is anticipated.
Phase Two of the new owners’ concept will involve transitioning the streetside retail space into a coffee shop and ice cream parlor (who remembers the old Pinecones?!) The new hotel concept does not involve a lot of retail space, although the Firehouse General Store building located next door was part of the sale in addition to the two parking lots on E. 6th and W. 7th Streets. Chrisman explained that the group did put a one-year lease agreement in place for the 704 Harrison Avenue space with the former hotel owner Kit Williams as he continues to liquidate his sizeable retail footprint both here and in the neighboring Vail Valley. Expect some great upcoming sales!
Phase Three under The Delaware Hotel’s new ownership involves room renovations on the second and third floors. The updated plan includes an additional four units – from 36 units to 40 – by splitting up the double suites, as well as an upscale upgrade to the corner suite. “We’re excited,” concluded Chrisman.
Room at The Inn
So, just who are the other members of The Delaware Hotel’s new ownership team? During LT’s on-site visit, the Managing Director of High Rocky Homes, Alex Haler could be found behind the front desk. While Haler’s lodging and property management skills weigh heavy at the team’s table, his real estate knowledge also came into play during the groups’ latest purchase, according to Chrisman. In fact, the team’s foray into Leadville lodging came a little more than one year earlier with the purchase of the former Alps Motel located off Highway 24. After a name change to The Old Tale Inn (207 Elm Street) and completed renovations, the group set its sights on its next acquisition.
By then former Delaware Hotel owner Kit Williams appeared more motivated to sell, looking to turn a page in his next chapter. Haler brought the team’s interest in purchasing the historic hotel along with an offer to the corner of 7th and historic Harrison Avenue and the negotiating began, finally sealing the deal on June 24, 2021. It’s worth noting that public records indicate that the purchase price was $0. But there’s always a money person somewhere in the picture. This time, he was easily identifiable with Chrisman’s comment: “Monty flies his plane in and out of Leadville; he loves it here.”
The “Monty” that Chrisman is referring to is Monty Moran, a man who “travels the continent in a single-engine plane, seeking to unify mankind through the wisdom of people from very different backgrounds, while showing how people are united in their common struggle to find meaning and purpose.”
But his Colorado home base is listed as Boulder. In fact, the name of his street address is Old Tale, which became the name of Moran’s film production company and now a motel (formerly The Alps, now the Old Tale Inn) in Leadville. A quick search reveals Moran’s well-earned and respected accomplishments in the business world, most notably as the former CEO of Chipotle. However, his profile expands far beyond that to include being an author, a filmmaker, a pilot, and now innkeeper. READ MORE.
With the new Delaware Hotel ownership team firmly in place, the ink drying on the deed and a fresh design concept underway, the story continues down on the corner of 7th and Harrison! Congratulations to the new owners! The stewardship of the Crown Jewel of Lodging in Leadville has been placed in your stead. All the best!
I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts
Casa Blanca Viva a Timberline
If you own a business here, it’s a good idea to live in Leadville Today. After all, those mountain views are what likely brought most entrepreneurs to America’s highest city in the first place! That was the motivating factor for the recent purchase of the Casa Blanca property. That’s right, just the property at 118 East 2nd Street was purchased, but NOT the family-run Mexican Food Restaurant that sits in the white house it’s named after. It’s a win-win for everyone, especially green chili lovers in Leadville Today.
With a listing price just shy of $600k, the purchase of the Casa Blanca property at 118 E. 2nd Street by Mick Lindquist was considered a package deal because it included the building that houses the 62-seat, established Mexican Food restaurant, as well as the private residence next door. According to the realtor, Linquist’s family, including two young boys will be moving into the residence in August. But perhaps the even better news for this entrepreneur, it’s just around the corner from another one of Lindquist’s commercial properties: The Timberline Motel, which is currently undergoing major upgrades. Location was definitely a key factor in this sale, with both parties coming to a final close in early June. The change in ownership also protects the jobs of others working at the popular, well-established restaurant. All that while continuing to feed a hungry Leadville some of its favorite Mexican dishes. Que bueno!
“Donny is still running the kitchen,” stated the waitress during a recent green chili pick-up. Yes, it was Donny Mascarenas’ Grandmother who started the family tradition all those decades ago just a few blocks over on East 4th Street in a small cafe called Matilda’s. Readers may catch up on their Leadville culinary history (below) by reading about Matilda’s Cafe, the green chili seed that eventually sprouted today’s Casa Blanca. Congrats to all on this next chapter. It’s always a happy ending when Leadville gets to keep its green chili and eat it too!
Celebrating Four Decades de Comida in Leadville
La Familia: The Family. No matter what the language, it’s a word that stands as the cornerstone for most cultures.
In Leadville, La Familia evokes the familiarity of a local business that has withstood the boom and bust cycle of Leadville: the Casa Blanca Restaurant. Located at 118 East 2nd Street, the little “white house” as it is known to locals, is currently run by Donny Mascarenaz and his extended family (like sister Karen!) But the family tradition and their reputation for incredible Mexican food date back to 1976.
Leadville looked a bit different 45 years ago: the Climax mine was in full swing, operating 24/7/365. So, there was no shortage of hungry miners, many of whom loved the spicy flavors that traveled up from south of the border.
But the early green chili seeds of the Casa Blanca Restaurant were actually planted a few streets over on East 4th. It was Donny’s grandmother – Matilda Martinez who started her Mexican food restaurant in 1963 located at 323 E. 4th Street and appropriately named it Matilda’s Cafe. For locals who remember their first trip to this former Leadville eatery, if the experience left diners feeling like they had just walked into someone’s living room by mistake, it’s because they had!
But it was that sense of familia along with some incredible family recipes that planted the green chili seeds for success! In fact, by 1975 business was booming so big that Matilda called her daughter Cleo and son-in-law Tony, to come up from Albuquerque and help run the restaurant.
Within a year, Tony and Cleo’s dream of starting their own restaurant became a reality, buying the perfect “white house” on East 2nd Street. And so the Casa Blanca Restaurant was born in 1976. On its first day in business, the Casa Blanca rang in only $38 in sales – Aye Caramba!
Things improved from there and the Mascarenazs grew their business and a family, including daughter Karen and sons Donald and Anthony. When Tony retired in 1993, Anthony bought the place and kept on his siblings – Karen and Don – to keep it all in the family. Now with the June 2021 sale of the property, the new owners have leased the restaurant space back to the family-run business, keeping its recipes in the white house for years to come!
Casa Blanca Restaurant is located at 118 E. 2nd Street in Leadville, Colo. (719) 486-9969. Open for lunch and dinner, Monday thru Saturday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Last Seen Headed South: Top Hat, White Beard
Leadville Liquors: Ready For Another Round
As business news goes in Leadville Today, it’s always beneficial when it works out for everyone during the hot-fire transfer of ownership and establishment of new businesses being seen in The Cloud City these days. It’s great when a former business owner who put in the time to build the business and clientele gets to retire and enjoy the gravy days. It’s wonderful for novice entrepreneurs who bring new energy and ideas to an established, small-town operation. And if the people living in Leadville Today gain something in the process, well, cheers to that!
And so it goes for Leadville Liquors as the transfer of ownership from long-time businesswoman Deann Skala to long-time residents Chris and Tamsey Tufte happened on June 17, 2021.
“We wanted to invest in our local area and saw buying Leadville Liquors as that opportunity,” stated Chris Tufte in a recent interview with Leadville Today. While Tufte’s background is as a heavy equipment operator, builder, and developer, the couple is ready to take on the new entrepreneurial challenge. Many locals will recognize Tamsey as a familiar face around the school district and local thrift store, all while raising their five children, now ranging in age from 10 – 22 years.
“I know they are going to do great. It’s a good fit,” said Deann Skala who owned, operated and expanded the business for a quarter-century in Leadville. You can read HER STORY HERE. Thanks for the cold beer and warm memories, Deann!
And for the regular sippers and day-trippers, the spillover of good deals and ice-cold cocktails-to-go are already in full flow! So be sure to stop in and introduce yourself to Chris and Tamsey, offer your suggestions for new or expanded products, and wish them good luck!
You’ll also find many of the familiar faces at the drive-thru and in-store during their regular hours: Mon-Thurs 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Fri & Sat. 9 a.m. – 11 p.m., and Sundays 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. The last hour of shift is drive-thru service only at 1619 Polar Street in Leadville. 719-486-3135.
New Merch From the House of the Living God Cosmos