In 1962, husband and wife Frank and Barbara Finn purchased the old Bluebird Lodge and its dining hall, nestled in the mining town of Gold Hill (ten miles west of Boulder, up Sunshine Canyon). The couple turned the almost-century-old spot -- now known collectively as the Gold Hill Inn -- into a gourmet restaurant.
Fifty years later, the Finns's sons, Brian and Chris, carry on their parents' legacy: They'll open the Gold Hill Inn for its fiftieth season this weekend.
"It's very exciting," says Brian Finn. "We're so isolated in this little town, so to actually make a go of it and carry on the tradition is really great." The Finn brothers took over the business from their parents about thirty years ago. "The anniversary makes me feel old," Brian adds, and laughs.
But to carry on the family tradition, the Finn brothers needed a stroke of luck from the Weather Gods. Back in 2010, the infamous Fourmile Canyon Fire was headed straight for the town of Gold Hill -- and all of its old wooden structures. "The fire came right to the very edge," Brian Finn remembers. "We were doing a big Labor Day concert and we were getting ready to have about 500 people. It was an extremely windy and warm day. So when the fire started down below us, it became evident we couldn't do the BBQ and shut it down. And then in the late afternoon there were hundred-foot flames getting ready to take the town."
Gold Hill was evacuated for ten days; the Inn was shut down for three weeks.
"We were very lucky," Brian says. "We were there when the flames came up and pretty much said goodbye. They even removed the fire trucks from town, pretty much thought it was over. And then, just at the last minute, the wind shifted, and the fire never touched the town."
Today, visitors to Gold Hill can still see the burn line, where the fire came to meet the edge of the town -- and then never crossed it.
So there's plenty to celebrate this fiftieth year. The season will kick off with a dance party (there's a "side-yard stage" next to the restaurant) with special guests Tommy & the Tangerines at 9 p.m. Friday, May 4, and the music will continue through the summer. "It's a lot of reunion stuff this year," says Brian. "A lot of the same musicians will be back from when my parents were running the place."
Tim O'Brien, Lake Street Dive, Washboard Chaz and Ophelia Swing Band are booked for a special fiftieth-year celebration that runs June 7 through June 9, and every Sunday through the season, the Inn will feature acoustic music from 5 to 7 p.m. Special concert/barbecues are planned for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.
The dining room will be open from May 4 through December 18. Through the summer, the Inn will offering a lighter, three-course dinner option for $25, in addition to the traditional, $35, six-course "Mountain Gourmet Meal" that includes an appetizer, soup, salad, entree, dessert and cheese tray.
For a full list of upcoming events and the current menu, visit the Gold Hill Inn website.
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