Of beer, bands and bullet holes

Aqueous lighting lighting up the pub.
Lights, camera, action: Aqueous lighting lighting up the pub. (Photo by Elliot Lawrence)

Catching up with Old Town Pub’s Séan Regan

Name/Age: Séan Regan, 38
Family status: Wife Sarah; son Mason; and a couple of cats

Swillin’: What’s your background? I grew up in Sussex County, New Jersey, in a small community called Lake Tranquility. After college in the Poconos, I moved to Steamboat at 22 in 2005. I cut my teeth in the Steamboat restaurant community throwing salads at Old West Steakhouse, running food at Creekside and drinking nightly at the OTP, anticipating the day I get a job there.

When and why did you buy OTP? We bought OTP in June of 2016. I had worked there since 2007 under two different owners, envisioning a lot of things through the years that I would do there. Then a good friend helped us out and we became partners. Our goal has been to make OTP a place for happiness, connection, a fun party, and to help set a higher standard for comfort and safety in the valley.

How hard has it been with the pandemic? The pandemic has been difficult for sure. Without the core staff and my family keeping me sane, who knows where I would be. The pub’s staff, we’re like family; we’ve been doing this together for a long time. The six of us that have been there the longest combine for 63 years of OTP, and we’re complemented by longtime friends and other Steamboat studs who just crush it. The staff are the real backbone here; they’re the ones who masked up for a year and people could still see their smiles. The rules were changing daily, as was my mood, and they kept positive, plus they kept me positive. They get to be around all the amazing people, and with that, they mastered the art of dealing with the not-so-amazing people. I recommend never being in the not-so-amazing crowd, ‘cause it’s noticed. We see some interesting stuff and we smile through it; we look out for each other here, and we have an amazing clientele who enjoys supporting us, and they look out for us and vice-versa — the OTP way.

Regan on the washboards, goofin’ off with Tenth Mountain Division
Regan on the washboards, goofin’ off with Tenth Mountain Division (Photo by Jameson Midgett)

Has it been hard to book bands? It’s been interesting. At first, we put on some socially distanced shows; those were difficult to put on but the music lovers rallied and we threw some intimate shows for 40-50 people, with world-class musicians. And we were able to pay the artists pretty well considering. Staffing has been tough as far as putting on shows but it’s coming together now. We could always use another door guy — wink wink, whoever you are.

What’s this winter’s line-up looking like? The calendar is filling up, with lots of OTP favorites returning back. A big part of booking now is reconnecting with friends we have worked with for years; a lot of these bands were hit harder than we were — they didn’t have a restaurant to fall back on. We’re hopeful the music scene continues to revitalize and these musicians can get back to their craft. Some shows to watch out for include the heavy future groove of lespecial; Funk You, a nine- piece dynamite funk party from Atlanta; and Runaway Gin, a killer Phish tribute from Charleston. We’re ringing in the New Year again with our local brethren Buffalo Commons, and get ready for Eric Delaney and Matt Holliday to grace our stage this winter as well.

How’s the revamped stage working out? It’s great — it’s had some next-level acts grace it through the past five years, hosting 400-plus nights of music and other events so far. We’ve been lucky enough to host many amazing musicians who are way too big to play our room. We’ve also had plenty of up-and-coming acts nobody knew of yet and now they’re headlining Red Rocks and other venues around the nation. It’s also offered novice players a chance to play for people. We also work with Mod Vaude, Steamboat’s local burlesque show, whose hardworking crew has worked tirelessly to perfect their event.

Let’s move onto what you serve — what’s OTP’s most popular beer, cocktail and food? We’re a Budweiser bar, for sure. Next, I’d probably say the Russel Kelly Mosaic IPA from Telluride, which is a damn tasty beer. Cocktail would have to be Terry’s Berries — sweet, refreshing, served as a martini or a shot, and crafted by the real best bartender in town. Food is a tough one because our kitchen is amazing. Our top dinner is the pot roast and top sandwich is our take on the Pittsburgh. And our entire weekend brunch menu is incredibly tasty. The OTP kitchen is the most underrated workplace in town.

OTP food

Favorite run on a powder day? Storm Peak Face to Rainbow to let it rip, and then I got a couple tree runs I like to keep fluffy, so no further comment.

Other activities you enjoy? I’ve been getting involved in the local hockey community. My 11-year-old son Mason is playing his fourth season right now and he convinced me to sign up and play in the men’s league. I’m a D league guy trying to keep up in the B league, and I love it. Every game gets a little better and a little more fun, plus the camaraderie on the ice is great — lots of talent and enjoyment out there.

What do you love about Steamboat? I love that people move here and then take pride in this being their hometown. I love how long-time locals will take to a cool new person that share a similar lifestyle and attitude. I love that the community rallies to help someone in need. And I love the weather. Kiss the mountain air we breathe!

Are those bullet holes in the back wall still there, and what’s their story? The bullet holes were in a phone booth that was given to some ranchers about 10 years back (not my doing). I hear the bullets were from one of two things: either a couple old cowboys in a pool game that went wrong; or some late night shenanigans with my man Joe Pete along with a few Hell’s Angels, the sheriff and a couple bottles of Sambuca.


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