Great article from the Telluride Daily Planet on how main street Telluride and the restuarants especially are wrapping up a great winter season- enjoy.

Restaurant business booming this winter

Occupancy rates also up for February

By Heather Sackett

Editor

Telluride restaurants are booming this winter, marking an upturn in the economy, according to data compiled by a local businessman.

Telluride Town Council Member and Business Coach at ASAP Accounting & Payroll Services, Inc. Todd Brown, says that this season’s restaurant sales through March 10 are up about 35 percent over the 2008-14 average for the same restaurants. The numbers come from ASAP’s database of restaurant clients in Telluride and Mountain Village and include both small and large restaurants. Brown said he omitted data that could be definitively linked to Quentin Tarantino-directed Hollywood production “The Hateful Eight,” such as a restaurant’s on-set catering. Those outliers could have skewed the data. But most of the increase came from regular visitors, he said.

“This year has been off the charts,” Brown said. “It’s my opinion that this is the cumulative effect of marketing over the last decade.”

Despite early season snow and the marketing push of the Holiday Prelude, early to mid December bucked the trend, with slightly lower restaurant sales than previous years. But the Christmas/New Year’s holiday made up for it. For that roughly two-week period, average daily restaurant sales topped out at just over $13,000. The 2008-14 average peaked at just under $8,000 a day.

General Manager of the New Sheridan Hotel Ray Farnsworth agrees with Brown that this winter season has been very good for the hotel’s restaurant, the Chop House. He said for the first quarter of 2015, the restaurant’s sales were up about 5 percent compared with last year.

“It’s been a good winter and I would concur that we had a super strong holiday season,” Farnsworth said. “It was bolstered greatly by the film crew as well.”

And it wasn’t just restaurants that did well this winter. According to Telluride Tourism Board CEO Michael Martelon, lodging occupancy rates were up and this season has already broken at least one record. Martelton said the February occupancy rate was 71 percent — an unprecedented number.

“We’ve never run 71 percent occupied in Telluride and Mountain Village,” he said.

The next closest he said was in February and March of 2008 when occupancy was around 62 percent. He expects the core winter season — December through March — to have about 58 percent occupancy. He also expects sales taxes to be up this season.

“It’s absolutely fabulous what we’ve been able to achieve this winter season,” Martelon said, “but we need to be cautious about the extent to which Hollywood had an impact on that. I’m cautious about it, but the numbers don’t lie.”

Martelon is working to determine the impact the filming of “The Hateful Eight” had on occupancy numbers, but he won’t have that data for at least a few more weeks.

He agreed with Brown that it was the cumulative effects of marketing, increased flights to Montrose from core markets and more visiting ski groups that contributed to the strong winter economy.

“I thought we were going to have a record year without the movie,” Martelon said.

Looking forward to the 2015 summer season, Martelon says although it’s still early, the trend could continue.

“Summer is pacing well right now,” he said. “We’ve had four consecutive record summers, so we continue to raise the bar for ourselves.”