In late 2020, El Rancho Brewing Co. was gearing up for a comeback.
After a lengthy COVID-19 shutdown, co-owner Paul Vincent hired a new partner, local businessman Glenn Fountain, to manage the restaurant, which has been entrenched in the hill town of Evergreen since the 1940s. rice field.
Fountain hired an all-new staff, including a chef, and reimagined the menu as a Colorado-inspired steakhouse, serving local game and haute cuisine. He says that providing the community with his owned and operated Evergreen deli is part of his vision, a place to “eat great steaks and drink great wine in a prime location.” Denver told his post.
By early 2022, the place was booming.
Social media was inundated with reviews about the food and home brewed beer. The downstairs space, rebranded as the Aspen Room, regularly hosts live music and has become a hot spot for special events. The restaurant has expanded to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner thanks to a staff of over 60 people. Many told The Denver Post that working at Rancho felt like a big family reunion every day.
But behind the scenes, Vincent and Fountain were arguing, bills weren’t paid, and things were starting to unravel. In April, Fountain resigned and some of the staff he hired, including chef Taylor Kelleners, resigned shortly thereafter. Unable to do so, more staff fled, Vincent said. El Rancho was forced to close for more than a month, Vincent said, citing “empty bank accounts and no staff to generate income.”
El Rancho temporarily reopened on a very limited basis, with Vincent himself and two employees serving beer and chili. But in mid-August, the Colorado Department of Revenue seized the property for failing to pay more than $90,000 in taxes. El Rancho is currently under foreclosure and is expected to remain closed until further notice. It will be auctioned in late September.
In an interview with the Denver Post, Vincent and Fountain accused each other of mismanaging the financials of their business and misrepresenting the terms of their partnership.
The details are difficult to sort out, but the impact of El Rancho’s painful death is not. Several former brewpub employees say they lost thousands of dollars, at least two sued Vincent, and others employees have filed complaints with the state.
“That (last) payment period included Easter, one of the busiest days ever, so people owe a lot of money,” said the restaurant’s former general. Manager Jack Jovovich said. “I believe it totals in the $100,000 range.”
Opened in 1948, El Rancho was originally a café and trading post, but its prominent location on Highway 40 has made it a popular gift shop and post office. With the construction of Interstate 70 in the 1970s, the cabin-style building served as a lodge and conference center. To this day it maintains its own exit from the highway.
Vincent, his brothers Robert and Thomas Vincent, and wives Yvonne, Laurie and Kyria purchased El Rancho in 2015 after a series of ownership changes and intermittent closures. El Rancho was vacant when the Vincent family took over. Former Raytheon engineer Paul Vincent said his brothers were looking for a retirement project and were drawn to the idea of entering the craft beer industry.
The Vincents added a beer brewing system to turn El Rancho into a brewpub, and Paul was to be responsible for all management related to the brewery. Since then, the 2016 Great He has won multiple awards, including a gold medal at the American Beer Festival and a silver medal at the most recent World Beer Cup.
He said Paul is the only Vincent brother involved with El Rancho, but the other brothers and their wives remain owners.
“My brother Bob left home in 2017. My brother Tom and his wife had to move in 2018 for health reasons,” Vincent said. “I am an engineer by nature, not a restaurateur. Did.”
“Not getting paid was the ultimate slap in the face.”
El Rancho’s sudden closure came as a shock to Conifer resident Cory McTaggart, who was planning to host his wedding reception on June 10th, as he loves the western vibe and outdoor space. A few months ago, she put down her $3,800 deposit to book her Aspen Room, but in May she heard there could be a problem with the venue and followed up. I tried up.
“We passed by and of course it was closed,” says McTaggart. “They never contacted me. Nothing to tell me that the event could not, could not continue. Not a word from them.”
McTaggart was able to get a refund because he disputed the charge with his credit card company.
Former GM Yovovich estimates that there were dozens of special events when El Rancho closed.
More than half a dozen former employees told the Denver Post that they didn’t see the closure coming either. I just learned that I received a text message saying that it will be the end of
Johnson was shocked and reached out to many of her regulars, telling them to stop by for one last Old Fashioned cocktail.
“I had a customer come in and tell me to come see me. My credit card tip was $619 that night. From one night,” Johnson said.
The money was supposed to fill an unexpected gap in employment, but Johnson said she never received another paycheck. has been added.) She is now suing Vincent in small claims court.
“I’m facing eviction and facing losing my car because I can’t pay. I can’t pay anything. I have negative money in my checking account,” Johnson said. Told. “I owe this money, I worked for this money.
Other former employees raised similar issues. According to police reports, former cook Brandon Perez called the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office on May 5 and said Vincent “refused to pay him,” expecting a check later that day. More than a dozen other employees showed up. Since then, he has been forced to take out a personal loan to close the income gap.
Another former employee who worked behind the scenes, Sarah Strout, is also suing Vincent for lost wages. The Colorado Department of Labor said he received 10 complaints against El Rancho between May and June of this year. All of these are still under investigation, according to a spokesperson.
“It doesn’t seem like a big deal overall, but $2,000 is rent,” Straut says. “To risk losing the roof overhead is devastating.”
Aside from the lost wages, Jovovich said it was “painful” to see El Rancho fall apart after he and his staff worked hard to revive the business and its reputation.
“This was more than just a job for me. This was my family and my team. I worked 12 to 15 hours on a regular basis because I believed in it.” “And not getting paid after the job was done and put in was the ultimate slap in the face.”
Most of the former employees the Denver Post spoke to worked with Fountain and resigned from El Rancho in response to or shortly after his retirement. Straut and Perez now work at Fountain in Evergreen Deli. .
Shalisha Hammond started working as a server at El Rancho in December 2021 and was one of two remaining employees. She decided to stay on her staff based on her experience working with Fountain and Vincent. The only thing she hasn’t received is the salary at the end of April, she said.
“I understand it’s a paycheck, but partly because doing the right thing isn’t about the money, I thought Paul needed someone to help him,” she said. rice field.
El Rancho’s future is uncertain
How exactly El Rancho got to this point remains a complicated web of blame. Vincent and Fountain agree that business success was a condition of the partnership, but they disagree on how that was defined, or whether El Rancho succeeded.
Both men admitted their company was behind on bills, including tax and loan payments, but said they were each responsible for paying them. has filed allegations of fraud and bank account tampering.
Vincent said he felt “awful” that his staff missed paydays, but Fountain praised them for their work.
“I had the best team and I loved them. We were like family,” said Fountain. “They probably said I pushed really hard, but they rose to the occasion.”
One thing’s for sure: the historic restaurant and brewery are in foreclosure. sued El Rancho for breach of trust deed of
Vincent is currently seeking to sell El Rancho prior to the public trustee’s sale date of September 22nd. Whether or not the building and business continue as El Rancho is up to new owners.
“It’s kind of bittersweet. I need it because of the amount of debt I’m stuck with,” said Vincent. If the property sells, he said he plans to use the money to pay back outstanding salaries to the bank, the seller of Elle His Rancho, and a former employee.