Local business owner hopes Hazie Days brings back Steamboat’s warm hospitality
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The novel coronavirus has impacted most downtown businesses, it has cut traffic in half along Lincoln Avenue and it has forced restaurants that are still open to switch from a dine-in model to pick up and delivery.
Yes, it’s true the virus has taken its toll on Steamboat Springs’ tourism-based economy, but that won’t stop Kathy Diemer, who owns the Johnny B. Good’s Diner with her husband, Mike, from reminding the community to celebrate its western hospitality by honoring legendary Steamboat resident Hazie Werner.
“That is the mindset that blesses Steamboat Springs — to wrap our arms around the people of our community and make them feel comfortable at home whether they are a long-term local, a second-home owner, a visitor, a student, a ski bum, a cowboy and the list goes on and on,” Diemer said.
“These days of COVID-19 have shown me that we need each other in this valley,” Diemer continued. “The strength of Steamboat Springs comes from how we care for our vulnerable, our sick, our shut-ins and our unemployed with dignity, respect and kindness. I believe that by rejoicing and reveling in the life of Hazie Werner, we too can spark the fire that can bring warmth to all the homes in Steamboat.”
Hazie Werner exemplified that welcoming spirit more than most, and all three of her children — Buddy, Skeeter and Loris — were accomplished skiers and legends in their own right. Her family seemed to embody Steamboat’s pioneering spirit.
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Hazie was a businesswoman with a reputation for welcoming people into the community. She worked for years at Boy’s Market before the family opened Werner Storm Hut Ski and Sport.
Diemer plans to honor Hazie and her hospitable spirit during the first-ever Hazie Days, which will be held May 17 to 23 in Steamboat Springs.
To get things rolling, Johnny B. Good’s will be offering free cookies to children who come into the diner — just like Hazie used to do. In addition, the restaurant will offer daily specials as well as a free milkshake to customers who can show a receipt for a purchase of more than $30 from a downtown store.
“I think it’s a heck of an idea that they got — you know, to put a little enthusiasm into the community and give them something on the bright side to look at,” Loris Werner said. “It kind of fits right in line with Hazie and the way she thought about everything.”
Loris still remembers the days when his mother ran the Werner Storm Hut downtown — how she greeted the customers with a warm smile and welcomed visitors whether they were here to ski in the winter or to hunt in the fall.
“She would always say, ‘They let me in, I let you in, and now, you can let somebody else in,’” Loris said. “It is still a pretty friendly place, but it’s not what it used to be … We just want to keep as much of the friendly tradition going as we can.”
Diemer said she hopes Hazie Days becomes a new shoulder-season tradition to remind people why Steamboat Springs is such a special place.
“In years to come maybe we can grow this into some kind of fun event for locals where we can all celebrate that spirit,” Diemer said. “Right now, that’s not what the city or anybody else wants us to do. We don’t want to create a big gathering. We are just doing it so that people can come downtown to shop and enjoy our town. We are just hoping that within the community we can take the focus off of some of the negative stuff that’s out there.”
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