Azteca reopens in Steamboat with new location
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Jonas Gabriel was back in the kitchen Monday morning, three months after he closed the doors of his restaurant Azteca in November.
“We’re excited to be back open. We’re starting small with a limited menu, and then we’ll grow as we go,” Gabriel said. “It’s great. I hate being unemployed — it’s not a great feeling, and it’s hard to pay the bills, too.”
When Gabriel closed his long-time Steamboat Springs restaurant just before Thanksgiving, it was located on Ninth Street. At the time, Routt County faced restrictive guidelines in an effort to stop rising COVID-19 case counts in the community. Gabriel was already facing a 25% capacity restriction, and it was clear the county was about to move to level red, which would mean the restaurant, which has 80 seats, would be limited to pick-up orders only.
It was the second time in a year that in-person dining had been restricted to takeout. Gabriel quickly realized his numbers were not going to add up to a profit, let alone provide enough to cover his rent. He made the difficult decision to close the restaurant that he started in July 1999. He had expected the closure only to be temporary, and when conditions improved, he was going to reopen.
Now, a little more than three months later, he has reopened the restaurant, but in a new location. Located at 56 Seventh St. inside 7th Street Commons, the staff includes Gabriel and another employee, and there is currently no seating, so customers receive their orders through a take-out window. Gabriel said his website, aztecasteamboat.com, should be up within a matter of days and will allow for online ordering. Customers can also call 970-761-5352 to place an order.
“That was the plan, just I just needed to find a spot,” Gabriel said of reopening. “This location is great, and once everything is said and done, I really liked the idea.”
The restaurant will offer breakfast burritos that includes eggs, hash browns, black beans, cheese, sour cream and salsa, with choice of chorizo, bacon or turkey sausage. Azteca also offers a rice and bean burrito, chicken burrito, carnitas burrito, carne asada burrito and the popular fish burrito for lunch.
“When I started telling people that I was going leave the fish burrito off, they were like, ‘You can’t do that, you’re killing us.’ So I’m like, alright, let’s add the fish,” Gabriel said.
The meal comes with rice, beans, cheese, sour cream and choice of salsa. Customers can also pay a little more to add guacamole, fajita style onions and peppers, creamy chipotle or mango habanero sauce.
The new location takes Gabriel back to Azteca’s roots when he started downtown in the Romick building, a smaller location than the one he closed.
“We had maybe six seats, so it was very, very small,” Gabriel said. “But we did have picnic tables outside in the summer. So, yeah, we are almost back to that.”
Azteca was at its first location for six years. It started small but developed a strong following as its menu grew. In 2005, Azteca moved to its location on Ninth Street, where it would remain for 15 years.
Azteca will offer take-out from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday.
Work is expected to begin inside 7th Street Commons this spring, and once completed, the venue will offer a place for customers to sit down and eat.
“This is fantastic, and I’m thrilled just having them in house,” said Sarah Boerger, who is doing development and marketing for 7th Street Commons. “We feel really, really grateful to have both them as clients here. They’re just good people to start this project with, and they’re the right people to start the project with as we move forward.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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The iconic cone-shaped building on the corner of Yampa and 11th streets in downtown Steamboat Springs was once a wood-waste burner before being moved to become the home for Sore Saddle Cyclery and Moots Bicycles.