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December 24, 2012
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Summit County: Christmas cravings lead to eatery openings

Unlike some places around the country, Summit County doesn't completely shut down for Christmas. Resorts are open for skiers, gift shops welcome buyers and restaurants beckon to those looking to feast without the fuss. While many people take Christmas off, it's important to acknowledge those who take time out of their holiday to provide service.

Local restaurants are particularly dedicated during the Christmas season, staying open to provide seasonal meals to locals and tourists alike.

"A lot of folk who come to Summit County are on vacation and maybe don't feel like cooking something themselves," said Travis Holton, owner of Pug Ryan's Steakhouse and Brewery. "The way we look at it is we feel like we have an obligation to a guest to give them an option for dining out on Christmas."

Pug Ryan's is located in downtown Dillon and includes both a restaurant and brewery. Holton reckons that the restaurant has been open every year on Christmas since at least the mid '80s and possibly longer. The staff, which Holton said is mostly made up of long-term employees, have the option to enjoy the morning - skiing or with family - and then come in the afternoon and evening to serve Christmas dinner.

"A lot of our staff have worked together for so long they consider each other their family," Holton said.

The Blue Spruce Inn in Frisco also has a long-standing tradition of being open on Christmas. The steakhouse is open 365 days a year.

"It's a very big day for us as far as the number of guests we serve and it's been a tradition here at the Blue Spruce ever since it opened in the '40s," said owner Charlie Eazor. "Pretty much all the holidays are pretty big events (when) all people go out to eat."

Though some locals certainly partake, Eazor said a large number of the holiday guests are tourists.

"They're staying in condos or hotels. A lot of them are searching for a way to go out and eat," he said. "You can't really cook a meal in a hotel room."

While the Blue Spruce employees will have to work on Christmas, they won't be alone; Eazor will be right there with them.

"I wouldn't ask my employees to be here if I wasn't going to be here," he said. "I think you'll find most anybody in the hospitality industry understands they work holidays more often then they don't. It's not something that's unusual to them."

The Hearthstone, a restaurant in Breckenridge, filled up ahead of time with holiday bookings. Jen Cawley, director of operations at Storm Restaurants, said that the restaurant does solid business around the holidays.

"It's busy the entire evening," she said, "not just at crunch time."

Hearthstone employees have an employee meal every day, and have a staff holiday celebration earlier in the month to keep in the festive spirit.

Nonetheless, being away from family in order to work on the holidays can be disappointing.

"I don't necessarily agree with being open on Christmas. I think it's a necessary evil," said chef and restaurant owner Matt Fackler.

Fackler owns restaurants Relish and Twist in Breckenridge, and said he's conflicted over having to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. With the town full of celebratory locals and far-from-home tourists, his places are guaranteed to be filled, he said, and the money is good, but he's not entirely convinced it's worth being away from his family during the special holiday.

"I've worked in other communities throughout the nation where everybody's closed ... everybody shuts down because that's the spirit of Christmas of being with your family and your young ones," he said.

One reason Fackler admits he's particularly reluctant to work over Christmas this year is that he's got a three-year-old daughter at home.

"That's hard for me to know that I have to rush through Christmas morning," he said. "You have to be open when you want to be closed, because the money's pretty good."

Whether someone is working or not, the idea and the spirit of Christmas stays the same.

"It's a time for people to rejoice, so it's enjoyable to be part of that celebration," said Eazor. "They're intending to go out and enjoy themselves and relax and celebrate. If we can be a part of that, then we'll have done our job."


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The Summit Daily Updated Dec 25, 2012 03:50PM Published Dec 24, 2012 11:33PM Copyright 2012 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.