Moose Jaw clocks in half a century on Frisco’s Main Street remaining as the locals dive bar of choice
In November 1973 Lynda Colety and two partners opened a bar on what was, at the time, a fairly empty gravel road on Main Street in Frisco. Colety’s bar, the Moose Jaw, was a rarity for a few reasons. At the time, it was one of the only bars in Frisco and it was one of the only bars owned by a woman in all of Summit County.
“The Jaw” quickly became the community watering hole with patrons describing it as their
“dive bar away from home.” The other business partners have long since left, but Colety has remained. Patrons describe Colety as a warm spirit who welcomes anyone who comes into the bar with open arms. The care she showed towards others earned her the nickname “Mama Moose.”
As time went on, Main Street got paved and businesses began to pop up at a pretty quick clip. This was especially true as a nearby ski resort that opened just a year before the Moose Jaw did (Copper Mountain Resort) began to gain some traction and pull in more visitors.
More competition came to Main Street. Yet, Colety’s spot didn’t change much in her beloved establishment to keep up with the ever-changing surroundings.
Even today, Colety said the Moose Jaw someone would have walked into in the 1980s is the same Moose Jaw they would walk into in 2023, though she acknowledged there may be some different employees of course.
Colety’s spot survived Frisco’s evolving food and beverage industry and a global pandemic.
Today, Colety can be found working at her bar, continuing to keep her customers happy and putting up her own Christmas decorations, only accepting help when she deems it to be necessary.
On Friday and Saturday, Nov. 17 and 18, Colety celebrated the 50th anniversary of her well-loved Moose Jaw. Despite accomplishing a feat of owning a business for 50 years, Colety’s humility thwarts her from taking credit. When asked the key to her success, she points to the community.
“It’s been a wild ride, thank god for the locals, they kept us going,” Colety said.
The locals, who have been hanging around the Moose Jaw from anywhere from 50 years to the past few years, gathered at the spot on Friday for a private party.
This private party was just for family and friends, but Colety’s wide-ranging inner circle kept the gathering from being too intimate. The Moose Jaw felt as cozy as a can of sardines on Friday night, demonstrating the sizable impact the spot has had over the years.
Rhonda Neilsen and Kim Wilson stood at the front door recalling some of their favorite memories at the Moose Jaw. Wilson worked for Colety for 30 years and Neilsen has been a decades-long patron of the Moose Jaw.
The woman reminisced over the time when the Moose Jaw was featured in a Warren Miller ski film.
Wilson said the film was heavily advertised and it was cool to see Moose Jaw being promoted in that way throughout the community.
“You could see it being flown on airplanes, it was a commercial … it was crazy,” Wilson said.
Wilson noted that Colety was the best boss she could have asked for and someone who treated her as if she was her own child. Colety does frequently refer to her staff as her “kids,” though she also has an actual child on staff.
Lynda’s son Sean Colety is slated to take the reins of the Moose Jaw and noted that long-time employees feel like siblings to him, speaking to his mother’s tendency to make the workplace feel like home for employees.
Patrons similarly feel the love from Mama Moose. Willie Wilson said he has been going to Moose Jaw for just over a decade and it did not take long for the place to feel like home.
“We love Lynda, Lynda is just the best,” Wilson said. “She will treat you like family and invite you over to her house for Thanksgiving or Christmas.”
Lynda Colety had a swarm of people surrounding her Friday as she celebrated the anniversary. She hugged long-time residents Theresa Sheesely and Beth Thompson, both of whom have a deep history with the Moose Jaw.
Thompson gushed over how wonderful Lynda Colety and her bar were.
“I have so many good memories here, I met my husband here 40 years ago,” Thompson said.
Sheesely chimed in, noting she also met her husband at the Moose Jaw around 40 years ago and has been coming back ever since.
Lynda Colety said she enjoyed her night on Friday, describing it as “surreal” knowing she had another night of celebrating 50 years with the Moose Jaw ahead of her. She said she’s gained so much joy and learned so many lessons in her time owning the Moose Jaw.
When asked about the most recent lesson she had learned owning the Moose Jaw Lynda Colety was quick to answer.
“I have learned to retire,” Lynda Colety said.
Lynda Colety confirmed that she will be passing the torch down to Sean in the not-too-far-distant future. Sean Colety has moved back home with his family after living in Denver the past several years in order to take over for his mom. An official transition date has yet to be solidified, but the Coletys anticipate it will be sometime next summer.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.
Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.