Kitchen Manager Doree Waters, left, prepares tomato Florentine soup and Dining Room Manager Georgie Weber washes salad greens as employees of Winona’s Restaurant work overtime in anticipation of today’s reopening after being closed more than a month for repairs to the kitchen floor.

Photo by Tom Ross

Kitchen Manager Doree Waters, left, prepares tomato Florentine soup and Dining Room Manager Georgie Weber washes salad greens as employees of Winona’s Restaurant work overtime in anticipation of today’s reopening after being closed more than a month for repairs to the kitchen floor.

Winona’s back to cooking in Steamboat

Restaurant to reopen today after more than a month

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— Veteran employees of Wi­­nona’s Restaurant & Bakery — like day kitchen manager Doree Waters and dining room manager Georgie Weber — have been waiting for more than a month to see customers coming through the front door of the popular little dining room at 617 Lincoln Ave. Today, they get their wish.

Winona’s was forced to close July 21 at the peak of the summer tourism season when what was supposed to be a routine tile job evolved into the replacement of the entire kitchen floor. Like most downtown Steam­boat businesses, Winona’s had just survived the first phase of downtown U.S. Highway 40 construction. The restaurant was just getting into a summer groove when it had to close.

For Winona’s 20 to 25 employees, it meant an interruption in paychecks.

“My husband worked, and I did a couple of side jobs,” Weber said. “Thank God we had savings.”

She’s been with the restaurant for five years.

Waters, who has been on the staff for seven years, said she used the interruption in her working life to spend quality time with her son.

“I stayed home with my little boy, and we gardened,” she said. “I also helped my mother-in-law move here from Texas.”

Restaurant owner Jamie McQuade is optimistic that her loyal customers will show up in large numbers this week. Her spirits could use a little boost after watching construction workers erect orange plastic fences at the curb in front of the restaurant Tuesday morning as the second phase of repairs to Steamboat’s main street got under way. They were just in time for Winona’s reopening.

“When I saw the orange fence I said, ‘Oh my God, I can’t wait for 2010 to end,’” McQuade said. “I hope people can still get here.”

She said 10 members of her staff have worked five days straight to get the restaurant ready to open.

“We’re pretty much doing everything from the beginning,” McQuade said. “We make almost everything but the bagels from scratch.”

On Tuesday, employees were stirring soup pots and frosting cakes while the last checks were being made on repairs to the floor.

Dave Heist, of Dave Heist Tile, said he worked until 2 and 3 a.m. four straight days last week to finish his work on the kitchen floor so other people could do their jobs.

Fox Construction was the general contractor on the job.

McQuade said a few of her employees were able to pick up temporary shifts at Johnny B. Good’s Diner and Freshies while Winona’s was shut down. And her employees have remained loyal to McQuade.

“She’s a good boss,” Waters said. “If you work really hard and you’re good for her business, she’s good to you. I have nothing but kinds things to say for her.”

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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