Sharon’s hosts final fish fry as longtime Steamboat restaurant closes doors
Longtime restaurant owner Sharon Stone did her best to fight back tears as she talked about the people, the food and the good times she has enjoyed over the years at Sharon’s restaurant. With her rent set to triple, Stone will close Sharon’s after one final day of business on Friday, Sept. 16.
“Tomorrow is going to be really tough,” Stone said from the dining room of the restaurant, which has been at 2851 Riverside Plaza for more than seven years. “I have to say goodbye to 34-year career, and then have to cater a party that night.”
Truth is, Stone has been serving good food to customers since she started decorating wedding cakes at the age of 12, then moved on to her own catering business at 14. She opened and ran Sharon’s Restaurant, which served homestyle meals in Steamboat from 1988 to 1996. She also ran the City Cafe in Centennial Hall for two years until April 2009, and started serving breakfast out of Pisa’s Pizza and Pasta in the riverside location for a couple of years.
Pisa’s later sold, and eventually closed and Stone returned to the west Steamboat Springs location where she started serving breakfast and lunch and running her catering business. During COVID-19 she offered free breakfasts to those in need.
“I started coming to Sharon’s in the 90s,” said Hugh Alexander, longtime customer. “Every time my parents came to Steamboat they wanted to go to Sharon’s for pancakes. She has moved around a few times since then, but we have always found her. She says she takes care of people, she feeds people and she’s a joy to be around.”
Stone said COVID-19, combined with the struggle to find employees and inflation, made keeping the doors open difficult the past several years. However, hearing the news that rent was increasing from $1,500 to $4,500 on the 1,800-square-foot location was the final straw.
“We did what we could to stay alive,” Stone said. “Since COVID hit, every time we figured out how to stay alive somebody’s thrown something else at us. It’s been just one obstacle after another.”
She said the past few years she shifted to a model hosting more private parties and rehearsal dinners, focusing on the catering business. Despite staffing shortages, she continued to offer her fish fry on Fridays and Saturdays. This Friday’s fish fry will be the last at Sharon’s, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but Stone said she refuses to give in to disappointment.
“It is what it is,” Stone said. “I think the right thing will happen, and you got to leave it in the hands of the universe and see where the little ball is going to bounce. I can’t do the $4,500 a month, so maybe it’s time for a change, maybe I need a new location. I don’t know it’s all up in the air right now.”
Stone said she has been looking for a space that offers a commercial kitchen with a small dining room where she could host events, and private breakfasts and meet the demands of her busy catering business. She is considering joining forces with some other local business owners with hopes that they can find a kitchen, and space where they could share the cost.
“I’m just trying to get through this month and see what happens because … you stress and you stress and you stress over what you should do,” Stone said. “Then all of a sudden you let go of it, you will have a beer in the sun and the phone will ring and some other crazy thing will happen and it is the perfect solution. I just want to skip over all the stress and go straight for drinking beer in the sun. That’s my philosophy.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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