New owners plan to change course of the ‘Creek’ a bit |

New owners plan to change course of the ‘Creek’ a bit

Cyndi McCoy
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado
Courtesy photoThis festive photo of Fraser, Colorado's, Crooked Creek Saloon, taken by Byron Hetzler, was featured in Ski Magazine in 2007. The establishment, which is soon to be the Creekside Eatery as well, was also recently featured in the premiere issue of Food Network Magazine in November.

Toni and Scott Hallgren have some changes in store for the Crooked Creek Saloon, known as “The Creek” in Fraser, Colorado.

“We want to soften the image of ‘Eat ’til you’re sick, drink ’til you feel better,'” Toni said with a gleam in her eye. “We want to maintain the ambiance for the locals, but we want more locals to come here, and to be more than a saloon.”

Toni and her husband have been coming to the area for the last 20 years, skiing, fly-fishing, hiking, and checking out business opportunities. Toni had always wanted to own a restaurant and bar as she and Scott watched the community grow. They jumped at the chance when “the Creek” came up for sale, closing on the deal Nov. 4.

“The biggest thing is the sense of community,” Toni said. “That’s why we love it here.”

The business, known mostly for its successful saloon, is expanding not only its menu offerings but its dining areas as well. After many requests, the Hallgrens have brought back breakfast, and a Sunday breakfast buffet has also been added. A once-a-month champagne brunch is also being considered, a late-night bar menu starts mid-December, and they hope to step up the desserts and add more Colorado microbrews and wines.

As a health care administrator for the last 20 years with a certification from Cornell University in food and beverage management, Toni and her husband, a physician into wellness and nutrition who worked on menus for athletes, hope to offer more low-carb and vegetarian options by mid-December. Other possibilities include “Sampling Sundays” to try out new menus, and cooking classes.

Renovations for the two dining areas start right after the Thanksgiving holiday, with a separate entrance and foyer so patrons no longer need to walk through the bar to dine. The Hallgrens will also paint, re-do the floors, and reorganize the historical memorabilia. Once in place, they will be putting up a new sign promoting the new Creekside Eatery.

They’ll go “a little higher-end” in the north dining room, updating the bathrooms and putting in new fireplaces. Bricks will be placed on the wall the center room shares with the saloon, making it look like the outside of the building, with swinging doors to add even more character. The center room will have more of a sports and family theme and the saloon will have more seating.

The cafe was originally a schoolhouse moved by Chuck and Elsie Clayton in the 1930s. It served as an eatery, bus stop, and a place for musicians to play in the early 1940s. After passing through several other hands, Tim Kinney and Mike Winey bought the back room and saloon in 1983 and a year later bought the saloon (from Sandra Gantz Miller and John Gantz) and joined the two buildings.

Many things that have brought customers there since will stay the same, said the Hallgrens (who bought it from David and Lisa Pratt). Its “great” staff has been kept through the change, as have the many entertainment opportunities: Bingo, trivia, Texas Hold ‘Em games, and open mic nights.

They are also hoping to incorporate a variety of new entertainment. Ideas include a ladies night, annual cribbage tournament, and to support many of their favorite indoor activities (like the Grand Theatre Company) and local charities. “The arts are so important to the community,” Toni said. “That’s important to us.”

With two children who were both student athletes, the Hallgrens want to do something with the local schools as well. Two ideas they are pondering are a student athlete of the month and a discount program for area educators.

“I just think this place has so much potential,” Toni said. “It’s truly the heart of Fraser.”

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