Wednesday, March 31, 2010

William Brantmeyer

It's true that when it comes to the Hotel Boulderado, some of our managers did more than others across the span of our hundred-year history. Hugh Mark put together the first promotional materials for the hotel. Ed Howard saved the building from condemnation by installing the fire sprinkler system. William Brantmeyer was at the helm for a relatively short time, but in that time he made one of the most lasting and inspirational changes for the hotel.

When Brantmeyer took over with his business partner, Dick Dorman, in September 1977, the first thing he set his gaze on was the lobby's canopy ceiling. Since 1961, red, white, and blue Plexiglas had dominated the space, and Brantmeyer's feelings about it were clear from the start: "I've hated that plastic since I first laid eyes on it." Brantmeyer and Dorman hired Marie Garcia to design, create, and install a new stained-glass ceiling, which she did while working out of a hotel room on the Mezzanine level. The end result is the amber and golden glittery spectacle we know and cherish today. Brantmeyer and Dorman sold their shares in the Boulderado just one year later to a group of partners known as Boulderado Landmark Ltd.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Porch Room

If you're in Boulder today, you know that calling the weather gorgeous is putting it mildly. The temp is in the 60s, there's more sunshine than I know what to do with, and the Pearl Street Mall is bustling with musicians and shoppers.

Speaking of sunshine, one of the best function rooms for sun in the Hotel Boulderado wasn't a room at all when we opened in 1909. The Porch Room, as it's now known, was originally an open-air veranda that hotel guests could stroll along and enjoy the bright Colorado sunshine. It was from this spot that Betty Mark and her classmates watched the first Boulder courthouse burn down in 1932. Eventually, the Porch was closed off and converted into an actual room in 1977. And as we learned from a previous blog post, the Porch was where our celebrated Q's Restaurant got their start. Here's a couple of photos of how the Porch Room looks now (both photos courtesy of Alison M. Fleetwood, Jr.):

The Porch Room is also significant in that it represents an exception to our "Tree Name Rule." Almost every function space at the Hotel Boulderado has been named after trees: Evergreen, Balsam, Alpine, Spruce, and so on. The only exceptions are the Porch Room and the Mezzanine, and those names are a reflection of the hotel's history. Stay tuned to learn more about the history of the Boulderado!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Easter Brunch Buffet at the Hotel Boulderado

The weather outside certainly is frightful -- snow is coming down at a tremendous rate, the roads look like they've been covered in pear-flavored slushees, and I heard a rumor they played "White Christmas" in the lobby earlier this morning. And yet Easter is just around the corner! I think Easter sneaks up on a lot of people because it's a different date every year. This year it's on Sunday, April 4th. Don't panic if you haven't ordered your Honeybake Ham -- just pick up the phone and call us for reservations to our Easter Brunch Buffet. Visit our website to check out the delicious menu Chef Pete is planning. Find out why we've been declared "The Best Easter Brunch Option in Boulder, Colorado."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Live Tweet Transcript from the Murder Mystery

Live tweeting the Murder Mystery on Friday night was so much fun, I wanted to share it with y'all! I've copied the transcript of my shenanigans below for you to read in case you missed out on the live version.

Our Murder Mysteries are part interactive, part show, and every table is given the task to band together and solve the mystery. My table was full of Boulderado employees -- Yuko and I, two bellman, one of our valet gentlemen, a front desk agent, a housekeeper, and a server from Q's Restaurant. What follows is our adventures in Murder Mysteries:
  • Woohoo! Livetweeting the Murder Mystery! Some guests are already here . . .
  • Nate and Chris just ordered our special "Vintage Drink" -- The Manhattan. "It's good, but it's STRONG"
  • Getting to know each other at the table and expressing how much each employee contributes to the Boulderado
  • We've been taken into the Evergreen Room, which has been converted into a Radio Station for the evening
  • Reviewing the Murder Mystery rules: Out of respect for the dead, don't touch the body!
  • Reviewing the Murder Mystery rules: Don't remove or deface the clues, or follow the characters out of the room
  • We are in October 30th, 1941 from now on (so ignore the laptop and the tweeting)
  • Suspenders and pillbox hats and pocket kerchiefs, oh my!
  • RT @death_party: And so it begins... But who shall die? And how? And most importantly, how?
  • RT @death_party: Or rather... Why?! And why can't the tweeter write properly? Hopefully it shall all soon become clear...
  • @death_party is the troupe we always bring in to perform our Murder Mystery shows. They're funny, engaging, and always keep you guessing.
  • "Now I may be mistaken, but outside Chicago, an ice pick is not part of a standard formal dinner setting."
  • Uh oh. Someone's dead.
  • Our table was taken back to the murder scene first out of everyone else!
  • RT @death_party: Oo, just about dinnertime. @hotelboulderado always has deliciousness. Also, dinner and murder always go together. Ruh-roh.
  • What's for dinner? Green Bean Almondine, Boulderado Au Gratin Potatoes, and Homestyle Cheese Ravioli
  • Some of these actors are on the naughty side!
  • Virginia Hills just asked Keith if he has a car with a big back seat!
  • I'm glad other people are asking questions -- I've had two cocktails already!
  • "Oh, I like this table more and more!"
  • "I am so confused, I don't even know who's who!"
  • Back to the Radio Room for the live performance -- Where's Bob?
  • Toby never knew when he signed up for our Murder Mystery that he'd become a part of the show!
  • Another dead body -- uh oh!
  • Someone else just dropped dead -- double uh oh!
  • RT @death_party: More death! Oh noez! And guest actors... A little short for a hero.
  • Trying out motives and theories on each other -- no one can agree on anyhing
  • Back to examine another crime scene -- two bodies, no ideas yet
  • My other team members are examining the clues
  • "We need a belt lineup!"
  • RT @death_party: While there many clues to be had, I don't know that anyone here has any of them.
  • Do we have it? Maybe? I have no idea any more . . .
  • RT @death_party: Looking at more bodies... Not as exciting as it sounds.
  • It's crunchtime! We have to declare who killed who, how, and why.
  • Everyone in the dining area has furrowed brows and confused looks
  • "It's time to clarify a few things, because you all have no clue"
  • OUR TEAM WON!!!!!
  • Signing off my livetweet -- Go Team Hotel Boulderado!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Boulderado Dining Room: A History Lesson

One of the most fascinating spots to consider in the Hotel Boulderado is our dining room, located on the lobby level of the northeast corner of the historic section. It has the distinction of being the oldest continually-operated restaurant in Boulder -- with the exception of a brief closure during World War II, the dining room has served guests since the hotel opened in 1909. Management and menus have changed a myriad of times, as has the look and feel of the space.

When we opened in 1909, the dining room was one of the premier places to eat out in Boulder. A Daily Camera newspaper reporter who wrote the article about the Boulderado's opening noted, "The spacious dining room, with its snowy linen, polished silver, and delicate bouquets, gave promise of the tempting delicacies and huge banquets that are to come. The kitchen, with its massive ranges and variety of modern conveniences, appeared equal to the tasks of furnishing the best and the most that could be demanded of it. The handsome electric chandeliers, the exquisitely patterned rugs, the profuse decoration of palms, ferns, and flowers, the beautiful music of the orchestra, all added to the sum to make a perfect total."

During his tenure as owner and manger of the Hotel Boulderado, Hugh Mark and his family were always given the honor of being the first guests to enter the dining room at mealtimes, and they occupied the same table year after year. It was at this table that Hugh Mark would keel over from a heart attack, taking the life of one of the Boulderado's most dynamic leaders. Betty Mark, Hugh Mark's young daughter, took full advantage of the formal dining room when she started taking tap dancing lessons and needed a place to practice. "The private dining room was a marvelous pace to practice, as the taps resounded beautifully on the tile floor," Betty recalled years later.

But the Marks were not the only ones who took regular meals in the dining room. Several service groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, Lions, Kiwanis, and Rotary groups, held weekly luncheon meetings there. Even though President Franklin Roosevelt repealed Prohibition in 1933, Boulder remained a "dry" county. Only 3.2% beer was permitted to be served in the dining room, despite the fact that more than one chef snuck down to the basement to nip from a flask. By the time the stock market crashed in 1929, the formal waiters with white jackets and finger bowls had given way to waitresses and a less formal atmosphere.

When it came time to re-open the dining room after it closed during the Second World War, the Hutsons decided to modernize and remodel. New equipment was brought in, including a range, refrigerator, new dishes, glassware, silver, and linens. Soda-fountain-style booths and a new, U-shaped lunch counter gave the dining room a more casual feel, as did it's new Mexican motif and "Cactus Room" name.

This didn't last too long, as by the late 1950s the dining room had been transformed into the Boulderado Coffee Shop. According to Legend of a Landmark: A History of the Hotel Boulderado, "A variety of dinners was offered from charcoal-broiled chopped sirloin steak with mushroom sauce and French-fried onions -- for $1.25 -- to choice roast prime rib of beef au jus, for $1.75. More beef dishes, chicken, pork, and seafood rounded out the menu. All dinners included potato, salad, fruit, and beverage."

A day came after the Howards took over when the manager of the then Chinese restaurant that occupied the dining room simply did not show up to work. June and Ed frantically kept the business going until they convinced friend and local restaranteur Fred Shelton to take over the space. He opened Fred's Steakhouse in the dining room, and a popular phrase took off -- "Come eat with Fred and sleep with Ed." Fred's specialty was a sirloin steak dinner priced at $2.15. Fred stayed until 1969, when the Howards gave up the hotel. From there, a dizzying succession of various owners, themes, and names came about:
  • Doug and Fran Simcoe's Boulderado Empire Room in 1969
  • The Prosperity Garden in 1972
  • Fleur de Lis (1970s)
  • Winston's Seafood Grille (1980s)
  • Teddy Roosevelt's American Grille
Teddy Roosevelt's remained until John Platt moved Q's Restaurant from the second-floor Porch to the dining room, where it has stayed through the present day. Patrons who eat at Q's must cross the same original tiled floor that proved so useful to Betty Mark in her tapdancing days.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Live Tweeting a Murder Mystery

On March 12th, I'll be attending our kickoff Murder Mystery Dinner, featuring 'Til Death Do Us Party. While the storyline is intriguing and the menu looks delicious, I'll be going with one aim -- to live tweet the event. There have been Murder Mysteries on Twitter and the Internet before, but this just might be the first time someone has attended a live Murder Mystery show and tweeted throughout. Tune in on Friday, March 12th beginning around 6:30pm to keep up on the shenanigans!

Monday, March 1, 2010

March at the Hotel Boulderado

When I was in grade school, I learned that the weather in March was "in like a lion, out like a lamb." And I fully believed that. Until I moved to Colorado, that is. We can have lions and lambs in the very same day.

Anyway. New month, new week, and I thought I'd bring you up to speed on a few events happening here at the Boulderado and also around downtown.
  • Denver Restaurant Week has already kicked off, but you can still take advantage through this Friday. Q's Restaurant is on the list of participating eateries, so stop by to taste Chef Platt's creations.
  • Looking to unleash your inner fashionista? Downtown Boulder is hosting Fashion Under the Flatirons on March 11th at the Boulder Theater, showcasing a variety of local merchants' spring lines. Enjoy a runway fashion show, silent auction beauty stations, food, drinks, and your Emcee for the evening, World Cup Freestyle Ski Champion Jeremy Bloom.
  • Murder Mystery Dinner series returns! Try your mind at sleuthing for an evening and discover how you stack up next to Sherlock Holmes. There's an uproarious troupe -- 'Til Death Do Us Party -- who comes in to help us with the show, and this time the story is set in the troubled year of 1941. A buffet dinner, cocktail, and valet parking are all included in the $64 ticket price, along with all your taxes and gratuities. Really, where can you find a better deal for dinner and a show in downtown Boulder? We have three dates open: March 12th, 19th, and 26th. Make your reservations with us now, because our Murder Mystery Dinners have a sneaky habit of selling out!
  • There's going to be a St. Patrick's Day Celebration on our Mezzanine with jazzy Irish music from The Green Party. Admission is free, but if you'd like to partake in our Irish Buffet, it's $17 per person. All your favorite Irish foods will be here -- corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and a mint chocolate chip mousse that will make you feel luckier than any Irishman.