— For those interested in buying or leasing the building at 538 Yampa Ave. or undertaking the task of reopening the Golden Cavvy Restaurant & Lounge or The Baker House, contact Harley Guess at 620-5627.
Craig Several years ago, Harley Guess had plans to retire in Arizona and vacation in Alaska. That was before he tried his hand at a new business venture, which turned out to be far from profitable.
The latest development in the ongoing saga of the property at 538 Yampa Ave. took a new turn last Tuesday when Guess, the owner of the building, paid off the debt owed to the Colorado Department of Revenue by Golden Cavvy Restaurant & Lounge proprietors Charlotte and Glen Gariner.
The business’s assets were seized in late July to recover funds from September and October 2012 sales tax and wage withholding tax from 2012’s third and fourth quarters. The total due with interest and penalties was $7,313, though as a third party, penalties were waived for Guess.
The assets within the building — tables, chairs, kitchen materials and other items — would have been sold at auction had Guess not stepped in to handle the debt.
“It wasn’t really my bill, but I didn’t want to see all that stuff sold off,” he said.
The Gariners, who could not be reached for comment, purchased the business in 2009 with financing from Guess. When the Cavvy shut down unexpectedly in October last year, Guess chose to step in to manage a whole new eatery with his son, Bill.
Part of the reason he wanted to keep it going was the property’s historical legacy.
According to the Moffat County Assessor’s Office, the 5,826-square-foot building was built in 1900. Even before the official existence of the town of Craig, founded in 1908, or Moffat County, founded in 1911, The Baker House operated as a hotel and restaurant dating back as early as 1904.
Among the most famous guests was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who visited there 20 years before his presidency.
Guess reopened the establishment in November 2012 as The Baker House Bar & Grill. The Baker House is what he still considers the building to be since it was the title when he moved to Moffat County in 1952.
“I think it became the Cavvy in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s,” he said. “A lot of old-timers thought that was the way it should be (as The Baker House).”
Though Guess saw some Cavvy customers eagerly returning, the costs of operation were considerable. He estimated he sank about $10,000 per month into the newly opened restaurant.
The last straw was a poorly functioning thermostat, causing him to call it quits in January, a decision that was supposed to be temporary. The Baker House was slated to open up again in the spring, but even with the tax issue cleared up, Guess is unsure how he wants to proceed.
By his own admission, the 74-year-old retired rancher is not in the best physical shape to handle restaurant management, a field he had never planned to enter in the first place.
“I had just sold my ranch so I had some money, and I was just trying to help some people,” he said.
Guess’s friend, Margaret Gluesing, has been assisting him in upkeep.
“If somebody would be interested in buying it or leasing it, that would be great just from the historical element, because it’s been there forever,” she said.
Guess said he would like to see the business up and running again, hopefully under new ownership. Another good option from his perspective would be to find someone who can better handle the day-to-day operations of a restaurant.
However, his past experiences have left him wary about the people with whom he does business.
“I’m going to be damn choosy about who I hire,” he said.
Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or email@example.com.