by Greta Hanson Maurer & Laura Lee Amman
A beacon for delicious home-cooked meals, desserts and libations for the past 78 years, Beulah Inn is a landmark. Located at 8920 Grand Avenue, the word historic might as well precede the name, as the establishment has served countless meals, and generated untold memories inside the walls lined with pine. Today, the restaurant and tavern looks much the same as it did when it was first built; however, a porch now runs the width of the building, and party lights blink in welcome.
Built on the same property where the famed Alta Vista Hotel (Hodge House) once stood, before it burned in 1926; the new building was constructed in 1940. Simple in design, the large rectangular front room included a bar on the south wall, an efficient kitchen, ‘Modern Restrooms’, and a porch out the back for the patrons to enjoy the fresh mountain air. Jessie Miller was the first to open for business.
The high esteem of which the Beulah Inn is held, comes as the result of a long list of people—dedicated owners, enthusiastic employees, and faithful customers—who created an environment as inviting as the woodburning stoves found in the front dining room, and at the back of the bar. Beulah, and the surrounding area has been fortunate to have these individuals give their talents to the area, simultaneously creating jobs for local teens and adults, alike. Keeping up with the unrelenting demand of cleaning, prepping, cooking, and serving, is not for the faint of heart; the following is a list of brave souls who have stood in that role at the Beulah Inn, complied by interviews and Pueblo County Assessor’s records.
1940 - Jesse Miller
1943 - Helen Purvis
1945 - Ruby Purvis
Dutch & Nora Samet
1950 - Bertie & Elmer Skrifvars - Elmer’s Gyp Joint/Beulah Inn
1958 - Elaine & Micky Neelan - Beulah Inn
1972 - Chris Weaver
1973 - Pat & Janet Carver
1975 - Ron & Mary Lou (Hood) LaVan
1984 - David Huscher
1986 - Cindy & Jake Huscher
Jake passed away in 1992
1993 - Cindy & Ray Bates
2018 - Brenda O’Farrell
Helen Purvis (local Bob Purvis’ mother), ran the show in the mid 1940’s, followed by his Aunt Ruby. Several people made a go of it before Bertie and Elmer Skrifvars bought the place in the 1950’s. They soon expanded the structure, adding the bar to the back, as well as the garage with the large room above, utilized as a library and study room for the professors and students of the geology program at Kansas State University, after they contracted to provide all the meals for the six-week summer visit.
Sisters Loretta Amman Madden and Lorraine Amman Immel went to work washing dishes for the Skrifvars when they were 13 and 14 years old. Loretta describes the routine required to feed 40-50 geologists three hearty meals each day, alongside meeting the needs of the regular crowd... “They came in for breakfast each morning at 7:00am, and took the sack lunch we had prepared the night before... then we would get busy making the dinner for their evening return. Truth be told, we had no complaints as a class of cute college guys invaded our village and made life a barrel of fun. After we got off work about 10:00pm, they had finished studying and we all got together to visit—Saturday night dances or a bonfire at the Mountain Park where we would sing our hearts out. Then we'd be back at work at 6:00am the next morning and start all over again.”
Local resident Ken Wahl was one of those geologists visiting Beulah for the first time in 1956 and confirmed that Beulah Inn prepared every meal—breakfast, lunch and dinner—noting lunches were always provided in a sack, as the students were in the field every day. He would soon meet his wife of over 60 years, Ilona Simonson, at a local Beulah dance.
Lorraine Amman summed up her six year stint at Beulah Inn by explaining, “I have always treasured working at Beulah Inn for so many years...it prepared me with so many skills for my life’s journey!”
In the 1960’s, Elaine and Mickey Neelan bought the Beulah Inn and ran a tip-top operation. Many residents still remember the long line of people that went out the door, waiting for Sunday dinner. The Neelan’s daughter, Debra called the Beulah Inn her second home. “My dad’s territory was the bar; my mom’s was the primary cook. My [late] sister Monna, and [late] brother Jack, and I all did dishes, and peeled potatoes.” Further, she noted the fastidious ways of her mother “Nothing left that kitchen without her stamp of approval. Her pride in her cooking was displayed with every meal.”
Juanita ‘P-Nut’ Burns Hewitt well remembers working as a dishwasher and waitress for the Neelans. Elaine thought she needed a nickname, and Mickey commented that she was no bigger than a peanut, so she’s been called P-Nut ever since.
In 1975, Mary Lou Hood and Ron LaVan purchased the restaurant, running the place for almost 10 years with the help of all five Hood kids. According to LaVan “The two most popular items on the menu were the Beulah Burger (1/2 pound burger with Swiss Cheese and fresh Fries) and the Green Chili Smothered Burrito, there was a big demand for Mary’s homemade pies.”
Youngest son, Scott Hood has been a restaurant manager in Loveland, CO for over 40 years. “I credit the time at the Beulah Inn with the start of my love of food and serving folks in the hospitality industry. The formula for success is the same—treat people great, serve good food and build connections.”
Hood goes on to share a story of one late night at the bar, when about eight patrons turned the bar room floor into the center of a Jack Tournament. “You know... Jacks! Over/under, In-the-Hole, Around the World.” Turns out his mother was a superstar at the game, she wiped the floor of them—so to speak.
Some of the names of the servers who greeted customers include Dorothy Klipfel, Linda Outhier, Kathy Petek, Pat Shiner, Pat Beeman, Mike Hildebrand, and Mary Hale; but the honestly the list is long.
Bob Thompson remembers stocking beer for the Elaine and Mickey Neelans while a student in college.
Connie Warbington Prijatel worked for Chris Weaver and then the HoodLaVans, “I learned a lot from Mary Lou about customer service, integrity and work ethics. The work was hard but money was great.”
Cheri Griggs also recalls packing lunches for the geologists in the late 1970’s, and working under three owners. Her father, and Beulah resident Jack Griggs, as well as her late mother Gwen (Arend) Griggs also worked at the Beulah Inn.
Cindy Huscher grew up in Pueblo, working at the Belmont Club and Mr. Steak as a young teen. After graduating from college with a degree in Sociology, she worked at the Blue Fish Cove in Pueblo. Not long after, she and husband Jake decided to buy the Beulah Inn from Jake’s brother David in 1986, fulfilling a dream of Cindy’s to have a restaurant of her own. Jake continued to drive a road grader for the county when he wasn’t helping at the restaurant.
Just before Jake passed away in 1992, he told Cindy she should ask his friend and chef, Ray Bates for help. Cindy and Ray worked together to run a tight ship for over 25 years—creating the classic Friday night prime rib specials, and memorable St. Patrick’s Day corned beef dinner each year. They are looking forward starting a well-deserved retirement in April after selling the business in October 2018.
Beulah Inn’s newest owner, Brenda O’Farrell started visiting Beulah monthly after purchasing land on 12-mile in 2014. She plans to build a cabin to share with her two children, their spouses and eight grandchildren who visit often. Recently retired from the nursing field (including her role as a trauma nurse for 10 years), Brenda made a decision to purchase the Beulah Inn to find a greater connection to her newly adopted mountain community.
What’s new at the Beulah Inn?
The restaurant and tavern is now open every day of the week from 11am to 8pm (until 9pm on Friday and Saturday); they offer weekly Taco Tuesday specials.
Other than that, you won’t find much different than when you last visited, because they’ve had a good thing going for a long time!
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