February 28, 1934 – June 12, 2020
Josef “Pepi” Langegger—restauranteur, developer, rancher, outdoorsman, mentor, friend, and Vail pioneer—passed away peacefully, surrounded by family on June 12, 2020 in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Pepi was born in Wagrain, Austria on February 28, 1934. He spent his formative years in war-torn Europe. He had what many would regard as a tough childhood: surviving WWII and losing both parents by the age of thirteen. A plucky entrepreneur from early on, he survived and thrived by finding economic opportunity where others failed to look. Among many small business enterprises, he cleaned and repaired wrist watches to sell at a profit. He put himself through hotel-restaurant school at the Klessheim Hotelfachshule in Salzburg, Austria, where he also learned business skills and English.
Impressed by what he referred to as the “gentle occupation” of Austria by American troops, he decided at a young age to move to America. His education enabled him to begin the adventure that led him to settle in Vail, Colorado. His travels with lifelong friends and business partners Peter Stadler and Hermann Staufer took him through England, Bermuda, Canada, Washington DC, and finally Chicago. There he met and married his wife of 53 years, Hanna Pufal. “Ann” and Pepi soon moved to Vail where he and Hermann opened the Lancelot Restaurant in 1969. At the beginning of this venture, money was so tight that they didn’t hire a cook or a manager, but alternated shifts behind the stove and in front of customers. Hard work and determination brought Pepi success in the Vail restaurant scene. He was a partner in opening the Lord Gore Restaurant and then operating the original Blue Cow. Long time locals know the Blue Cow Chute and its relation to this 1970s iconic restaurant. Pepi transformed the Blue Cow into his most memorable and successful establishment, The Tyrolean, an award-winning wild game restaurant that operated for 33 years. In 1980, he and Hermann redeveloped the Tyrolean building into its current, distinctive form. In 1987, he opened the Golden Eagle Inn, which still exists today in Beaver Creek.
Throughout his life, Pepi was an avid outdoorsman. He enjoyed hunting and fishing throughout North America and in Austria. The mountains and valleys of his beloved Colorado are where he spent most of his time outdoors. His fascination with and deep respect for Rocky Mountain Elk, and the fact that The Tyrolean and the Golden Eagle Inn featured wild game dishes, eventually compelled him to buy a large ranch near Silt, Colorado. Pepi transformed this land into Twin Creek Ranch. During the 1990s, his ranch produced many award-winning breeding bulls and served as a source of elk meat for his restaurants.
Over the years, countless friends, customers, and associates were drawn to Pepi’s charisma, experience, and individuality. His family in Austria will always remember him as an American success story, and their admired relative who never forgot his humble roots in the Austrian Alps. Pepi is survived by his wife Ann, sons Sig and Peter, grandson Jurgen, and sisters in Austria, Hanni and Christl. He will be dearly missed.
To send condolences to Ann, please email email@example.com for her contact information. Donations to Vail Health on Pepi’s behalf are greatly appreciated. A celebration of Pepi’s life will be held at the Lancelot with friends and family at a later date.
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