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Double Z changes hands, but Z Burger, hot links still on menu

Matt Molenar has purchased the Double Z Bar & BBQ on Yampa Street in downtown Steamboat Springs.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Double Z Bar & BBQ at 1124 Yampa St. will be opening a fresh chapter as new owner Matt Molenar takes the helm of the iconic downtown Steamboat Springs restaurant

“It was an opportunity that presented itself, and I jumped on it,” said Molenar, who took over operations at the end of January. “It’s the hidden local’s spot. … I’ve never been in a place like this anywhere. … This is a unique place.”

The history of the restaurant and the building where it is housed is an interesting one.

“It started up as a Double R,” said longtime owner Fred Matzdorf, who sold the business and the building to Molenar. “Before that, it was Steamboat’s first health food store.”

The Double R Bar and Barbeque opened its doors in 1983, offering a local watering hole and simple menu. The restaurant served locals until 1990 when the building was caught up in the middle of a federal drug seizure. Then owner, Ron Smith, was accused of trafficking thousands of pounds of marijuana as part of a large national distribution ring.

“It’s kind of a long story, but the U.S. government put it on auction, and a guy named Bill Zimmerer, along with me and another person, bid on it,” Matzdorf said.  “Zimmerer got the bid, so he got the building and the business, and he changed the name from Double R to Double Z. Two years later, he decided to get out of the business, and we just purchased it from him and just kept the name.”

Matzdorf took over operations of Double Z in 1993 and partnered with Stephen Rorhbaugh. Rohrbaugh eventually left the business, and Matzdorf brought on Dave “DK” Kane, who left the business just a few years ago. But no matter who has owned the business, the Double Z has continued to build one of Steamboat’s longest-running barbecue traditions.

Double Z’s robust menu is a big reason Molenar wanted to purchase the business. Before buying Double Z, he worked in the restaurant business for years in positions ranging from dishwasher to cook. He became interested in purchasing the business last fall and agreed to buy the business after the circa-1910 building sold to Dumke Holdings, LLC and Inti Investments, LLC for $862,700 during the first week of January.

“I love this place,” Molenar said. “The Z Burger and hot wings with blue cheese — trust me, it’s been a month, and I still eat it all the time.”

The menu also offers hamburgers, cheeseburgers, the Z-Salad, Zeasar salad and BBQ baskets that include pork and beef ribs as well as smoked chicken. There are also barbecue beef pork sandwiches and spicy hot links to name just some the restaurant’s favorite fare.

Matzdorf said he plans to take a step back from a 28-year culinary career that included stints at the Butcher Shop, Brandywine, Old West Steak House, the Cantina, The Cove and China Express.

“I’m just going take a break right now,” Matzdorf said. “I’m not planning on retiring, but you never know.”

As for Molenar, he plans to continue Double Z’s established traditions.

“I’m not going to change anything,” Molenar said. “It’s the Double Z. I can’t mess up the Double Z, and if I do, I will have to leave town.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.


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