Oak Creek Chelsea’s Restaurant looks to drive business | SteamboatToday.com

Oak Creek Chelsea’s Restaurant looks to drive business

Chinese restaurant offers delivery service to Steamboat

Oak Creek’s Chelsea’s Restaurant co-owner Jaila Benjamin
Matt Stensland

Oak Creek’s Chelsea’s Restaurant co-owner Jaila Benjamin, left, delivers lunches to Yampa Valley Medical Center pain management office coordinator Alison Frinks on Thursday. The Chinese restaurant is offering lunch delivery Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Matt Stensland

— Andy and Jaila Benjamin decided that if business isn’t coming to them often enough, they are going to go out and find it.

The Benjamins, owners of Chel­­­­s­­ea’s Restaurant in Oak Creek, are expanding with the help of their SUV, making lunchtime deliveries of their Chinese food to Steamboat Springs.

Andy Benjamin said that with the economy slogging along in South Routt, he wanted a new way to sell his food.

“With the downturn in the economy, we’re basically down $70,000 from what we used to do,” he said. “You can’t cut that much money out of your budget. It’s impossible. So we’re really trying to find ways to utilize the space that we have and the product we have and drive additional revenue.”

Chelsea’s in Oak Creek has been closed several times in the past several years as a result of business downturns. With help from an investor, the Benjamins opened again in summer, and they’re looking for ways to keep the restaurant open permanently.

“The business runs great May 15 through Sept. 15, plus or minus,” Andy Benjamin said. “Then after that, with the change of seasons, with the lack of visitors in the valley, the business plummets.”

Chelsea’s has a Sunday buffet to coincide with NFL games. Andy Benjamin is hoping the lunch delivery service will pull in more business on the slower days.

At noon Thursday, Jaila unloaded 10 to 15 delivery lunch orders at the medical office buildings of Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat. It was the first office to buy into the delivery service Chelsea’s is offering Wednesdays and Thursdays, their slowest days.

There are eight items on the special lunch menu. Most are slightly smaller portions of the restaurant’s most popular lunch dishes, including sesame chicken. For $10.95, delivery customers also get an egg roll and rice. Delivery is included in the price. Jaila also added an Asian vegetable salad for $7.95.

Emy Cromie, an employee at Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, said she ate at Chelsea’s years ago but hasn’t dined there since. She has started again thanks to the delivery service. Upstairs, in the pain management office, Alison Frinks said the service is popular for people in her office who don’t want to leave the building for lunch.

Jaila said she already has plans to expand. For now, Chelsea’s is aiming its delivery service at large office buildings where she can make several deliveries at a time. She said she would like to add places such as the Routt County Justice Center as early as next week. She calls for the orders Tuesday, and delivers Wednesday or Thursday. Andy Benjamin said he’d like to expand to Fridays.

And if all goes well, the restaurant might hire a delivery contractor to start making runs up the Oak Creek canyon as often as there are orders.

It’s not the first time Chelsea’s has looked to Steamboat Springs. For eight months in 2006 and 2007, the restaurant had a downtown Lincoln Avenue location.

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