Rico Theatre & Café Opens Doors Under New Owners
by Karen James
Jun 09, 2008 | 804 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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RICO – Kathy McJoynt wanted to own and operate a restaurant and live music joint about as much as she wanted a broken leg.

But when the Rico Theatre & Café went up for auction last year she, husband Joe Croke, and investment partner/friend Dean Kottmann thought it might be a good real estate investment so they decided to attend. Besides, they didn’t seriously think they’d be the winning bidders.

“The auction had no minimum and went up like $50,000 at a time. The whole thing took less than five minutes,” McJoynt explained.

“We had no intention of buying it, it just kind of stalled at our bid,” she said.

So it’s not surprising that her reaction to winning the historic venue on Main Street was anything but delight.

“I wanted to throw up,” she said. “But luckily Dean came through with two bottles of Patron tequila.”

The business came turnkey – the only things missing were the food and drinks. Easy enough, they thought. They could just hire someone to run the place while each continued his or her day job – McJoynt, as a bank loan officer, and Croke and Kottmann as builders.

Then that someone who was supposed to run the place pulled out and the three found themselves exactly where they started.

Thinking about it, they decided the business was better open than closed – after all, Rico could use a food and entertainment injection. Thinking about it further, the three did what all sensible people without a shred of experience in the restaurant or live music worlds would do, they decided they’d run it themselves.

“We got backed into it quite literally,” said McJoynt. “To make a decision to run a place like this is a pretty stressful one. You’ve got to throw caution to the wind and just do it.”

So they hired local Rico chefs Michael O’Connor, who has also worked in Telluride, and Telluride native Gary Ortiz to run the kitchen. And again, they did what any three sensible people without a shred of experience in the restaurant or live music worlds would do – they opened up in the middle of winter, off-season in Rico.

“It gave us a better understanding of how this business and operations work without being slammed. We didn’t want to open up in June not knowing what we were doing,” said McJoynt.

The kitchen cooks up casual bar fare at dinnertime ranging from about $7 for appetizers like poppers and wings to $20 for a large pesto pizza (sourdough, thin crust). In between are burgers, chicken sandwiches and salads. Beginning next Friday, June 13, a weekly fish fry kicks off and plans to add a blue plate special are in the works.

Sundays feature hearty brunch standards made from scratch like eggs benedict, huevos rancheros and pancakes for up to $12.

“These are full plates of food,” said McJoynt.

“This isn’t a little potatoes on the side – you get what you pay for,” including eggs fresh in from Cortez which is from where, in addition to Dolores, the three hope to draw in customers to enjoy meals and a variety of live bands booked by local sound engineer Jereb Carter.

“I love music, but I don’t know anything about it,” said McJoynt. (Nor do the other two owners, she said)

“That’s why Jereb is so important to us,” McJoynt explained. “He’s the reason we have music.” Coming up are:

June 13 – The Fort Collins band Motorhome

June 14 –Americana singer/songwriter Carolann Ames and her band Silverlake

June 19 – The Patrick Sweeny Band

June 26 – The Great American Taxi fronted by Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman

July 4 – the Rico Blues Project

The three consider this latest incarnation of the Rico Theatre & Café as a “community place” as McJoynt described it. While they have no plans to run it as a movie theater, once they get a projector and add mid-week movie nights.

“More like lawn chair cinema,” said McJoynt.

Not a dive bar, “It’s a comfortable place to go and have a cocktail and meet with friends and then have a burger and pizza,” McJoynt explained, adding that with room for 350 people it’s large enough to accommodate birthday parties and the like.

“We want people to have a place to go,” McJoynt explained. “It’s all about having a good time.”

For more information and dining times visit www.ricotheatrecafe.com or call 970/967-9223.
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