Inside the Commons

the Commons Bar in Steamboat Springs
Justin from the Common Bar in Steamboat Springs, CO.

Steamboat’s newest cool-to-hang-out-in food court is The Commons in the former Ghost Ranch building at 56 Seventh St. Showing that teamwork is thriving in the eatery world, it houses food vendors, a full bar, large deck over Butcherknife Creek, and more. “It’s an awesome space with a great bar and food options,” says co-owner Cam Boyd. “It’s a cool place to hang out with your friends.” Here’s a look at the vendors inside.

Justin Keys, The Common Bar

The Common Bar is arguably the pulse of the court. No matter what people choose to eat, they congregate here or have drinks brought to their tables. Specializing in craft cocktails (you should see their bartenders shake), and beer and wine on tap, it’s run by The Barley’s Justin Keys, meaning it’s easy to borrow a keg from next door.

Steamboat move: I moved here in 2017 to buy The Barley. I grew up in Colorado and when my best friend moved here I visited as often as I could. Eventually, I had my “existential crisis,” ditched my old career, and started a brewery. Fate plopped me right where I wanted to be.

Bar/restaurant background: I worked restaurants in college a bit, but mostly delivering late night calzones. Otherwise, my expertise was in construction management. I worked a brewery in Denver for six months, but most of my bar experience has been at The Barley.

Uniqueness: We wanted to provide two relatively opposing concepts: high-quality cocktails, but casually and efficiently. Instead of trying to define what we want, it’s easier to define what we don’t want to be. You know when you’re in a big city cocktail bar and you have no idea what half the words on the menu are, the cocktail is $20, and you order another one as soon as your first arrives because they take so long? That’s not us. We provide delicious, unique, consistent and approachable cocktails. We take the “nose in the air” out of the cocktail bar.

Best seller: Tied between our super simple, clean and delicious house marg (I like it with a mezcal floater and tajin rim), and the cocktail named after our GM, the Tallahassee, which is fluffy, floral and delicious.

Commons atmosphere: I love it. We tried to keep little bits of the Ghost Ranch and Off the Beaten Path, its former tenants, while updating the feel and brightening it up. We tried to elevate everything, and then turn it back down a notch. It’s fast casual, but nicer than that. Casual, communal, and unique.

Steamboat props: I love all the outdoor things here. But my main draw will always be its sense of community, which is like no other place. People here care about Steamboat and each other. It’s truly an amazing community.

Favorite activities: Shredding the gnar, “trying” to catch fish, and pedaling to a cold brew somewhere.

Unknown info nugget: I like Taylor Swift (more than I’d like to admit).  

Dane Findley, Sizzlin’ Jamaican Cuisines 

Sizzlin’ Jamaican Cuisines the Commons in Steamboat Springs
Sizzlin’ Jamaican Cuisines and the Commons in Steamboat Springs

Owned by Monique Baker and Dane Findley, Sizzlin’ Jamaican Cuisines serves up authentic, fast casual Jamaican cuisine, from curry goat to Jamaican patties and more. Its best-sellers, says Findley, are its jerk chicken and slow braised oxtail. Want to make your own at home? They have a store, M&D Jamaican Delights, at 440 S. Lincoln. Below, we catch up with Findley.

Steamboat move: Most of my family members are from New York and New Jersey but I had a cousin living here and she convinced me to visit. I fell in love with it and moved here in 2015. This town offers tremendous opportunities if you’re willing to work hard. I’m actually on my third business, along with my Jamaican grocery store and cleaning business. 

Restaurant background: I come from a long family history of restaurateurs. My cousin owns two restaurants in the Bronx, and my stepdad owns a Jamaican restaurant in New Jersey. Several family members in Jamaica have also owned restaurants and I’ve seen how they operate. A restaurant is more than just food. It’s about the customer service, the experience and how you make people feel. 

Uniqueness: We carry a wide range of authentic Jamaican dishes cooked traditionally, all using natural herbs and spices. While the meats are hard to source, our curry goat and oxtails are the best around. Our Jamaican beef patties are great, as well as our Sizzlin’ Jerk Chicken, Jerk Pork and Jerk Wings. But we’re so much more than our food—we try to bring people together through our culture, which also includes our music and history.

Commons atmosphere: It’s truly one of a kind, with such a diverse selection of vendors and food options all under the same roof. There’s an option for everyone. 

Steamboat props: There’s so much to love about this community, including its unwavering support for local businesses. We also have a beautiful farmers market and free concerts in the summer, lots of great food options and a warm, welcoming spirit. It all makes Steamboat a great place to live and raise your family.

Favorite activities: The bowling alley, playing soccer and going to church at the Christian Center. The spirit of the church community, and the support they give everyone, makes you feel like you’re part of the family. It keeps you grounded, showing that all things are possible. 

Unknown info nugget: I love to run. I did track and field in school and became pretty good at it.

Bryan Baker, Yield

Yield is a farm-to-counter bowl and burrito experience, operated by Bryan Baker, who also owns and runs Corner Slice Pizza just a burrito’s toss away.

Steamboat move: I moved here in 2017 to chase my dream of opening a restaurant and being closer to family.

Restaurant background: My first job was at age 15 running food and bussing tables at a BBQ joint and I’ve been in the industry ever since. 

Uniqueness: Farm-to-counter bowls and burritos—local fuel to keep you on the go in the Yampa Valley. Featuring a plant-based approach, we welcome most any dietary restrictions without compromising taste or substance. And you can add on some local carnivorous options.

Commons atmosphere: It’s the perfect addition to the downtown dining and gathering scene. The preservation of the Ghost Ranch’s character, focus on the community and downtown location make it the perfect destination for any occasion.

Steamboat props: The access to the outdoors.

Favorite activities: Snowboarding, biking, running rivers, the Howler, and the ice rink’s bumper cars.

Unknown info nugget: Carly and I had a baby in May!

Alec Nelson/Patrick Ayres, Clyde’s Pies

Clyde’s Pies whips up Italiano-style, wood-fired pizza that you take home from the alley window or get it delivered upstairs to the Commons. It was founded by Clyde Nelson, who arrived with his family in 1989 as executive chef at The Home Ranch. After retiring, he started Clyde’s Pies, fueled by a love for wood-fired cookery, selling it to his son, Alec, and his friend Patrick Ayres in January 2023.

When/why and from where did you move to Steamboat

Alec: We adhere to strict traditional methods in their preparation and baking. Our dough is made from authentic Italian “00” flour with a cold fermentation for 48-72 hours; our sauce is made from Italian San Marzano tomatoes; and our toppings are made with labor-intensive care. The pizza is assembled after hand stretching each dough and then fired in a 750-degree oven burning only Colorado peach wood for just a few minutes.

Restaurant background:

Alec: Clyde spent 30 years at the Home Ranch as their executive chef, building a wood-fired brick oven as the centerpiece of its outdoor kitchen and quickly becoming passionate about that method of cooking. I learned a lot from him over the years, mostly from being kitchens as a kid. But I’ve served tables in a few restaurants, helped my dad open Clyde’s Pies and have learned a lot about the art of making Neapolitan pizza.

Patrick: I’ve been in the restaurant industry in some form or another since I was 16. My first job was as a busser at the Yacht Club, where Aurum is now. Since then, I’ve cooked in Seattle, Louisiana and around Colorado. I opened Cloverdale Farm and Restaurant here in 2016 and have been working with the Clyde’s Pies team nearly three years, buying into the company in January.

Commons atmosphere:

Alec: We love it. It’s in a great building with a lot of personality and offers something for everyone and every occasion. It can be a great place for work or meetings during the day and turns into a fun lively bar in the evenings. It’s got big open spaces great for socializing as well as cozy, more private corners on the upper level. And the deck with a view of Howelsen is awesome in the summer. 

Steamboat props:

Alec: Steamboat is a beautiful place full of genuinely friendly and active people. I love having the opportunity for so many outdoor activities right at my fingertips, including mountain biking, paddleboarding, hiking, camping, skiing and more. I’m also a big fan of the adult and youth sports communities. I’ve enjoyed coaching young soccer players, play in the adult soccer league, and just got back into hockey thanks to the encouragement of friends. 

Patrick: I like the summer. 

Favorite activities: 

Alec: Hiking, mountain biking, soccer and paddleboarding.

Patrick: Live music, pickleball, tennis and golf.

Jake Carson, Poke the Bear

Poke the Bear the Commons in Steamboat Springs
Poke the Bear the Commons in Steamboat Springs

Poke the Bear was conceived by owner Jake Carson to cater to the local community and broaden the dining scene with a new concept for town of healthy and delicious Asian-inspired poke bowls.  @pokethebearsteamboat

Uniqueness: In Hawaii, “poke” literally means to cut something. We slice and marinate normally uncooked seafood (ahi tuna or salmon) and mix it with sauces and heaps of veggies along with sushi-inspired ingredients. We then drizzle a sauce on top, from savory umami to spicy. It’s a combination of Hawaiian and Japanese influences that is nutritious and delicious. It’s also exciting, with our menu stating, “Smile! It’s supposed to be fun!” We love to have fun and make people smile about what they’re eating.

Restaurant background: Combined we have 50-plus years of restaurant and culinary experience from around the world. We love fresh, farm-grown ingredients, along with line-caught fish from the best fishermen around.

Menu faves: Joining our build-your-own poke bowls are such signature bowls as Lemme Shoyu (white rice, ahi tuna, sesame shoyu sauce, cucumbers, edamame, seaweed salad, pickled ginger, scallions, Sriracha mayo, and topped with crispy onions, sesame seeds, and wasabi peas). We also have ever-changing garnishes, including orchids, tropical umbrellas and even an occasional Swedish Fish or two.

Commons atmosphere: It’s absolutely perfect for our concept. We wanted to be part of something that shares space with like-minded chefs and entrepreneurs. It’s so great being with so many great concepts that all drive business together. Having a space that holds so many people with many food and drink options is exactly what we were looking for.  Steamboat props: What’s not to like? It’s absolutely beautiful, from lush green wilderness to great snowfall. And it’s great to have an awesome downtown community whose members actually have a say in what they want in their town. It’s rare to see a community all care for proper growth without ruining the vibe. We just hope we’re contributing to what Steamboat separates itself from other towns.