Beau Jo’s to replace Buffalo Valley | AspenTimes.com

Beau Jo’s to replace Buffalo Valley

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Beau Jo's, a Colorado pizza chain, will replace the venerable Buffalo Valley in Glenwood Springs. (Kara K. Pearson)

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Beau Jo’s signature mountain pies and honey-covered pizza crust are coming to Glenwood Springs, replacing the venerable Buffalo Valley restaurant run by longtime owner Kurt Wigger.

Wigger is preparing to sell the Highway 82 establishment and Chip Bair, principal owner of Beau Jo’s, a Colorado pizza chain, is preparing to step in. The switch is scheduled to take place Jan. 3, but Buffalo Valley is likely to operate much like it has until April or so, according to Bair.

According to Beau Jo’s website, the original restaurant opened in Idaho Springs, Colo. in 1973, followed by seven others. Now, locations are due to open in Boulder and Glenwood Springs. Incidentally, the environmentally conscious restaurants use wind and solar power, according to the website.

As for Buffalo Valley, the large buffalo above the fireplace and other mounted animals may come down, but Beau Jo’s may keep some of its predecessor’s fare on the menu.

“We’re planning on maintaining [Wigger’s] menu through the first of April,” Bair said. “Our plan, currently anyways, is to bring our menu in at that point in time.”

But he added, “We’re going to be analyzing what Kurt’s been doing in his menu and looking at probably some other things and how we want to meld those menus together.”

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Wigger said he doesn’t know what might stay on the menu, but added, “My guess is the prime rib ” it’s the No. 1 seller here.”

Bair wants to use the first three months of operation to gather feedback from customers and the community.

The full-scale kitchen provides opportunities that aren’t available at other Beau Jo’s, he noted. In addition to possibly keeping some of Wigger’s dishes on the menu to complement Beau Jo’s core menu, Bair is kicking around ideas like serving a lemon chicken dish his wife cooks.

“We’re not sure what we’ll keep and what we won’t,” he said.

Diners will find Beau Jo’s healthier options on the menu ” gluten-free pizza, for example.

“We really kind of pride ourselves in healthy options for people,” Bair said.

The decor and the exterior of the building likely won’t change a lot, since it already fits well with Beau Jo’s mountain style, said Bair, who has been interested in establishing a restaurant in Glenwood Springs for some time. Durango and Steamboat Springs count among its other mountain-town locations.

“We really want to become a local-oriented kind of place,” Bair said.

A management team that includes Jeff Carlson could help achieve that goal. Carlson is in touch with the area, having spent much of his youth in Glenwood and graduating from Glenwood Springs High School, Bair noted.

Wigger, who has operated the Buffalo Valley for about 21 years and restaurants in the Roaring Fork Valley for some 46 years, is under contract to sell the property to Terry Claasen and TCC Properties LLC for about $3 million.

Bair said he plans to lease the space.

“We’re all going to be sad to see Kurt leave,” said Lila Fuller, who’s worked with Wigger for 19 years. “We’re happy for him that he’s retiring, and that he and [his wife] Elsbeth are going to get to travel.”