Court & Robbie Johnson, both avid skiers, met eight years ago at Bachelor Gulch, the sister slope to Beaver Creek. They used their cabin in Ranch of the Rockies as their private getaway and fell in love with Buena Vista, vowing to live here someday. That someday occurred in the fall of 2015 when they purchased the Lariat Bar & Grill. Court, originally from Lake Zurich, Illinois and Robbie, from Toronto, felt like they were “coming home”. The things that drew them to Buena Vista were the access to mountain sports, the great weather, and because Buena Vista is not a ski town, with all the issues that come along with that kind of community.
The Johnsons were drawn to the Lariat because of the “great bones” and the soul of the bar. It’s not something that can be reproduced, “it’s the real thing that comes from a 130 year old building,” said Court.
For fifteen years, Court managed his two older boys’ rock band and has spent many hours in both bars and music venues. Their vision is to maintain the bar and to create a music venue for the many local artists as well as those out of area. They see this as the perfect space for a bar, as well as a music venue.
Court & Robbie closed on the bar on a Thursday, which at that time was the designated night for open mic, and were blown away by the local talent. They have continued with open mic night, which was moved to Wednesday night and expanded to include a jam session every Friday. They also intend to continue the “Pimp & Ho” party which is a popular summer event. They have also brought in a culinary chef and intend to provide more bistro type foods and drinks.
The Johnsons realize that they can’t be all things to all people, however, they are actively seeking input from the community that has embraced, supported, and encouraged them.
(This article was written last fall for an article in the Buena Vista Heritage Newsletter. Today, Mach 2016, the Johnsons are undergoing a major remodel and expansion. Buena Vistans are excited to see their outcome.)