Restaurant moves forward as a way of overcoming challenges
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Like so many other restaurant owners, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a number of new challenges and an air of uncertainty for Brian Tessari, who owns otto PINT in downtown Steamboat Springs.
“Our approach has been good,” Tessari said Friday. “It’s one of those things when you’re sitting there and just getting punch drunk with all the craziness of 2020. You could stop and look at it and then grovel, or you could kind of do something fun and different and keep creatively moving forward.”
Tessari said when otto PINT was closed to in-person dinning for a second time on Nov. 23 due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers, it was a blow.
“When the planes are not flying, and the tourists are not there and you’re running at 50% or 25% or at zero, you have a whole bunch of restaurants that are trying to survive, and it’s difficult,” Tessari said. “We need to get everyone healthy and safe and get these vaccines out so we can get back open, and we can start running again.”
To make sure he is ready, Tessari has spent the past few weeks since indoor dining was stopped to implement a new concept that will blend what otto PINT currently offers with an elevated menu. Tessari hopes this transformation will offer a unique dining experience when his restaurant, now called otto PINT gastroteca, reopens for in-person dining.
Chef Graham Jones will come to Steamboat and work alongside chef Chet Malkowski and the current otto PINT team to continue serving up proven favorites like gourmet pizzas and wings along with delicious new creations.
“otto PINT has had a fantastic couple of years in Steamboat Springs,” Tessari said. “We’re excited to take the successful concept we’ve built and continue making it a true dining destination — one that’s both approachable and memorable.”
The menu will feature a globally inspired fare with handcrafted dishes made from the freshest ingredients. Diners can expect inventive small plates like Thai chili grilled pork belly, seasonal chef specialties and appetizing entrées like Moroccan lamb and what Tessari describes as the best Bolognese you’ll ever taste. Artisan cocktails and 16 wines by the glass will be served with the restaurant’s established craft beer lineup.
“Chef Jones has been an intricate part of our Northern Colorado family of restaurants for the last seven years,” Tessari said. “He and I had an opportunity to bring our gastroteca dining experience to life in Fort Collins a few years back at Vincent. We can’t wait to marry these two awesome concepts and introduce a truly unique experience to our guests in Steamboat.”
Tessari said diners can also expect to see some changes inside otto PINT that will unfold over time. He said there would be different seating arrangements, new lighting and a fresh approach to service to marry up with the concept of the casual fine dinning.
“That room is so pretty and always kind of just seemed like, for a straight pizza concept, underutilized,” Tessari said. “There are things that we could do to make it look really cool and just up the game … We’re replacing some things and moving some things around to kind of give it a little warmer feel and not so much of that wide-open kind of hard-surface cafeteria.”
The Steamboat restaurant was the first of four that Tessari owns in Colorado that would be closed to in-person dinning last month. Domenic’s Bistro & Wine Bar, Vincent gastroteca and the original Fort Collins otto PINT location were all closed the week after otto PINT in Steamboat as the state moved to limit people’s exposure to the virus that has dominated headlines for the past nine months.
“COVID has been an incredible challenge,” Tessari said. “It’s been one of those things that every day you wake up, and you realize they changed the game, and you have to figure out how to adapt and move forward.”
In addition to using this break to implement the new concept, Tessari said his team in Steamboat has also undertaken a regime of deep cleaning and installed a new point-of-sale system. He said otto Pint gastroteca will start offering a limited takeout menu this week, and he hopes to expand that to a more full menu sometime mid-week.
“The year 2020 tried to throw us lemons, but we decided to make lemonade, and it’s going to be some extraordinary lemonade,” Tessari. “That’s why we’re adding even more flavor and fun to our team, our menu and our overall experience. We want to give people something truly exceptional when we all come out of this time together.”
Visit ottopintsteamboat.com/ to view the menu and order takeout.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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