Riviera Supper Club and Piano Bar | AspenTimes.com

Riviera Supper Club and Piano Bar

by Carla Jean Whitley photos by Anna Stonehouse
DETAILS: 702 Grand Ave. • 970-945-7692 • rivieraglenwood.com PRICES: Mid-range AMBIENCE: This iconic restaurant, originally established in 1947, features a refined, relaxed dining experience with live entertainment seven nights a week. SIGNATURE DISHES: Prime rib, which is all-natural 1855 black angus beef crusted in a mix of herbs and spices prepared fresh daily and served with seasonal vegetables, roasted garlic mashed Yukon gold potatoes, housemade jus and creamy horseradish; lobster bisque; Thai egg rolls; Boozy Burger NOT TO MISS: Looking for a quick happy hour? Don’t miss Winesday, when all wines are half-price. The happy hour menu, offered daily from 4:30-7:00, includes $5 appetizers and drinks. Wine enthusiasts will want to check out the menu of wine flights. Choose from nine options — categorized with terms such as “light and fluffy” or “big ol’ hairy reds” — which include three pours. Every dish is made from scratch in-house, so don’t hesitate to ask for more information.

Looking for dinner and a show? You don’t have to worry about whether your server will bring your check in time for you to rush off to a venue — or about two separate ticket prices — when you dine at Riviera Supper Club and Piano Bar. The downtown Glenwood Springs restaurant has built a reputation for fine dining and performance.

It’s a natural pairing for the restaurant’s owners, former “Phantom of the Opera” musical director Jonathan Gorst and chef Travis Owen. The duo purchased the landmark restaurant in 2016 with a vision in mind: “I believed that there was a great need for something that included live music in downtown Glenwood in a restaurant setting,” Gorst says.

He had experienced piano bars throughout the company while on tour with “Phantom” and believed live entertainment and fine dining go hand in hand.

While Gorst built his credentials traveling the nation, Owen established his right next door. He entered the hospitality business at age 13, washing dishes at Peppo Nino. At the Riviera, he’s worked to establish seasonal menus that keep his staff engaged while pleasing customers.

“I want it to be something that’s accessible and appealing to most people, but I also want it to be inspirational,” he says.

Lately, that’s involved playing with molecular gastronomy. And the restaurant’s many special events offer more room for creativity.

The piano is part of the everyday experience, with live music sometimes leading to sing-alongs. The Riviera has developed several additional entertainment experiences, as well.

The restaurant hosts frequent murder-mystery dinners, in which diners are assigned roles and must interact with one another to solve the mystery. Attendees often dress the part and become immersed in their roles, between dining on a three-course meal.

Come Christmas, regulars and guests alike return for a 1940s radio hour. Last Halloween was also a special event, as the staff introduced a “Phantom”-themed dinner.

Broadway-inspired meals now occur quarterly, each with a different show as the evening’s theme. Recently, the team paired seven songs from “Oklahoma!” with a seven-course menu inspired by the era and themes of the show.

“How do we want to approach that?” Owen recalls thinking. Each Broadway evening requires preparing 350 to 400 plates in a short period of time. “It’s difficult, but it’s really rewarding, as well.”

Regulars are already asking when this year’s “Phantom of the Opera” meal — scheduled again for Halloween — will go on sale. It’s evidence that Owen and Gorst’s pairing found its audience