Exclamation Point goes upscale | PostIndependent.com

Exclamation Point goes upscale

January 22 2004 Glenwood Adventure Park

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Exclamation Point restaurant has moved from meat and potatoes to potato pillows.

The restaurant, located at the top of the Iron Mountain Tramway at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, is shedding its blue collar image for that of a more upscale eatery “that brings the food up to the level of the views,” the restaurant’s owners said.

“We’re basically responding to our customer requests,” general manager Larry Hon added.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park owners Steve and Jeannie Beckley said the pub-style menu offered at the eatery from its grand opening in April until early January was simply not profitable.

“In the past it was not a financial success,” Steve Beckley said. “We were serving a lot of food and a lot of people, but we were losing money.”

Jeannie Beckley figures the problem was that the restaurant was “trying to be all things to all people.”

“So we got some compliments, but we also got a lot of complaints,” she said.

To remedy this problem, executive chef Shannon Cummins was brought in to raise the restaurant’s quality. He’s replaced frozen beef patties with fresh ingredients ” many purchased from Colorado companies.

“Now it will be consistent,” Jeannie Beckley said.

Where there was once a fish and chips platter, burgers and a barbecue beef sandwich, there now is bacon-wrapped filet mignon with potato pillows, chanterelles and a demi glace.

“A lot of the locals wanted a destination dining place,” said Cummins, who has prepared cuisine in upscale restaurants from New York City to Santa Barbara, Calif.

“We’re just bringing it up to meet people’s expectations with the quality of the park and the views,” he added.

The restaurant’s change took place as yearly maintenance was done to the tram and restaurant from Jan. 12-15.

Another variation from the restaurant’s old format is offering a different menu for lunch.

Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., then dinner is available from 5-9 p.m. Hon said a “bar-lite” menu will be available between 3 and 5 p.m.

Lunch offerings, which range in price from $7 to $12, include an oven-roasted turkey sandwich, the Exclamation Point sirloin burger and a smoked salmon sandwich.

Cummins spelled out some of the reasons he decided to separate lunch from dinner.

“During the day, there’s a lot more tourism,” Cummins said. “At night it’s more destination dining.”

Along with Cummins’ high standards come somewhat higher prices.

The past menu offered entrees from $9 to $22, where the revised dinner choices range from $14 to $24 and includes six permanent entree choices. Nightly specials will also be available.

“The food’s really elegant,” Hon said. “It’s proper, but retains the casual atmosphere.”

Hon said he hasn’t forgotten the little ones. The restaurant offers the same kids’ menu as ever, with several meals available for $4.95.

“We’re not trying to exclude anybody ” especially kids,” he said.

In fact, on Wee Wednesday, kids get half-price off their meals.

Hon said the lack of public notice about the change took many customers by surprise, but he hopes people react positively to the restaurant’s new direction.

Along with the change to a finer-dining atmosphere, Hon said there’s been a change in the reservation policy.

In the past, reservations were only necessary for parties of eight or more people. Now, however, Hon urges everyone to make a reservation before taking the 10-minute tram ride up the mountain to partake of the new line of fare.

“We have removed quite a few seats in the dining room,” Hon said.

Also, the live music that once filled the restaurant has been suspended ” at least for now.

“They plan to do music again in the summer,” Hon said.

An outdoor barbecue will also be available this summer for those seeking burgers, dogs and barbecue chicken at a more affordable price.

“It’s still very casual,” Cummins said. “It’s casual elegance.”

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511


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