Following three hectic weeks of efforts by Cedaredge town officials to keep the Cedaredge Golf Club's Wildfire Restaurant open, it stood closed last weekend.
A Saturday evening music concert by Dr. Mary Kleinsorge had to be cancelled, and it remains unclear whether the facility will be available for profitable party and group engagements this holiday season.
Town officials received notice on Oct. 23 that restaurant lessee Curt Smelser was stepping out of the business, said town administrator Katie Sickles. The notification prompted a closed-door negotiation process including at least two special weekend meetings of the trustees, with executive sessions to try and hammer out terms of a transition.
Another special meeting with a long executive session was held on Wednesday, Nov. 6. That meeting attracted an audience of more than a dozen people wanting to witness the final outcome of the negotiations.
A sticking point in negotiations was whether the Wildfire's pizza oven, a massive structure assembled of brick and stone, would remain or be dissembled and removed. The issue was resolved, Sickles told the DCI, with an agreement whereby the town will pay Smelser $27,008 for certain "trade fixtures" and other items he is leaving behind, including a $10,000 payout for leaving the pizza oven in place.
Trustee Ray Hanson told the DCI that town officials learned during negotiations that the restaurant had been in difficult financial condition and that other investors had been sought for some time. At the Nov. 6 meeting, Smelser said to the town board, "I'm free at last."
By Friday morning, town staff was at work in the restaurant overseeing an inventory of the liquor and food on hand.
The whirlwind negotiations had also focused on trying to find someone to take over management and operations of the golf club restaurant. Town board members were neither enthusiastic about nor willing to add managing a restaurant to the Town of Cedaredge's current suite of business enterprises. But the town also wanted to see the eatery stay open.
It appeared the effort would be successful — an employee of the restaurant offered to take over the operation. Trustees were told at the Nov. 6 meeting that the employee would be looking for bank financing because he didn't have money for payroll, for the next food order, or for other expenses. Nevertheless, the board authorized the town clerk to issue a temporary liquor license for new management at the Wildfire, at such time as all required liquor license fees are paid.
The employee also told trustees that the Wildfire needs customer support from the golf course community and elsewhere. "We need to get people up here. The main concern is to get new faces in there," he said.
But, after helping with the food inventory on Friday, the prospective manager reconsidered the situation, and withdrew his offer to take over the operation.
The restaurant is closed, noone knows for how long.
In addition to approving issuance of a temporary liquor license on Nov. 6, trustees ratified a lease termination agreement with Smelser.
On Saturday, Nov. 9, golf course Pro Larry Murphy notified the DCI that new management would not now be taking over at Wildfire. "We don't know just what is going to happen at the moment," Murphy said.blog comments powered by Disqus