New Mexican restaurant slated to replace Rio Grande in downtown Steamboat |

New Mexican restaurant slated to replace Rio Grande in downtown Steamboat

Scott Franz
Rex Brice
John F. Russell

Rex Brice, owner of Steamboat Restaurant Group, owns and operates Rex’s American Grill & Bar, Mazzola’s Italian Restaurant, Big House Burgers Lil’ House, and the Laundry in Steamboat Springs.
John F. Russell

— The era of rooftop margaritas in downtown Steamboat Springs won’t be gone forever when the Rio Grande Mexican restaurant closes next week.

Local restauranteur Rex Brice is planning to open his own Mexican-style restaurant in the Rio space in December.

“We’ve been wanting to do this concept for a long time,” Brice said. “It will be a casual, progressive Mexican concept with a craft tequila cocktail program. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I think it will be a nice addition to the restaurant community. I grew up in the south, and I’ve always liked southwest food.”

The restaurant will be Brice’s sixth in the city, and when his new one is open, he says he will be employing more than 200 people.

Brice expects to close on the purchase of the downtown building at the end of the month.

Then, the interior will be remodeled.

“It will be a really neat space when we’re done with it,” Brice said.

He said the rooftop will be maintained and eventually improved in time for the next summer season.

The Rio is closing Sept. 13.

The restaurant’s owners said it had become increasingly challenging to run the Steamboat location from the corporate headquarters in Fort Collins.

Brice said he’s happy his new restaurant will employ more local people.

“If we can create more opportunities for more people, then I consider what we’re doing a success,” Brice said.

Brice opened his last local restaurant, the Laundry, in 2011.

He also operates a catering business.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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