MOUNTAIN VILLAGE, Colo. — Travis Parker enjoys spending time with his family in Mountain Village but he says it wouldn’t be a feasible thing to do, without the refurbished Gondola dining spaces, called The Cabins In Mountain Village. “It would have been really hard for the kids to not be cold and enjoy our lunch outside. This has made it much much easier,” he says.
Mountain Village purchased refurbished gondolas to use as dining pods for guests visiting the town. “That was through the help and support of the town council and of course we got some great grand funding from the state, from the Revitalizing Main Street grant, and some more grant funding from the CARES Act,” says Zoe Dohnal, the Business Development and Sustainability Director of Mountain Village.
People can order food from the local businesses and enjoy it inside of the warm Gondolas. “We started off with five, then we decided we need more, so we went 10, 15, and then 25,” says Dohnal. The creative idea was a major hit both with customers and business owners who say having the pods around helped boost their sales. “The community itself, families, kids, couples everyone alike comes just to dine in one of these cars,” says Dohnal.
“It gave people a place to eat that was safe and it added more locations to eat in the plaza,” agrees Scott Poston, who runs the Telluride Grilled Cheese Cart. The better dining experience helped the economy of Mountain Village. “Our sales tax, believe it or not was only down 6 percent over last year, which compared to other communities during Covid, is insane,” says Dohnal.
What sets these gondolas apart from other similar outdoor dining tents is that even after the pandemic, the gondolas will be a permanent fixture in mountain village. “Now that the pandemic seems like it’s coming to an end, our business owners and community members are like, ‘you’re not taking those away are you?’ And they are definitely going to stay,” says Dohnal.