Karen and Wayne Barger, owners of Seasons Rotisserie & Grill, a mainstay on Main Avenue in Durango, have listed the fine dining restaurant for sale for $2.25 million.
Karen Barger said after the recent retirement of her husband from Fort Lewis College, where he was head trainer and assistant athletic director, the couple began looking to retire together to have more time to spend with family and to travel.
“We’ve always had different schedules,” Barger said in an interview this week. “He was off summers, and that was always our busiest time. He was off for Christmas, but that was a busy time for us, too.”
The couple has always wanted to visit Australia and New Zealand.
“That’s not the kind of trip you can do on just a long weekend,” Barger said.
Beyond travel, Barger said retirement will allow them to look after aging parents and spend more time with their grandchildren.
The Bargers have two adult sons: Their eldest is Chris Barger, who owns CT Electric in Durango; their youngest son, Matt, is in his last semester at Arizona State University studying engineering.
Karen Barger said listing Seasons for sale is only the beginning of an exit strategy that she expects will take three to five years to complete.
“I still love what I’m doing; as hard as it was to make this decision, it’s better to list it while you still love what you’re doing,” she said. “When you run your own business, it isn’t like you can come in and give your two-weeks or one-month notice.”
Seasons, 764 Main Ave., opened in 1994 under original owners Roger Roessler and Gerry Schaerer, and Barger said she began working for them in the 1990s. She purchased the business from them in 2003.
Seasons’ website says it “is firmly rooted in American-style cooking perfectly paired with exemplary service.” The centerpiece of its kitchen is a wood-burning grill and rotisserie. Its menu, which changes seasonally, focuses on fresh ingredients.
Barger credits the Seasons team of 34 employees, the core of whom have been at the restaurant for years, with the success of the restaurant.
“We have an amazing team, and I think it’s rather unusual in this business to have a core of employees who have been with you for decades,” she said.
The restaurant was rebuilt from the ground up after it was destroyed in a fire Feb. 22, 2008.
The fire started in duct work in Seasons’ kitchen, fire investigators found, resulting in the destruction of the restaurant and two neighboring businesses, Half Price Tees and Le Rendezvous Swiss Bakery. Several other businesses were temporarily closed because of smoke damage.
Nine firefighters were injured when an explosion rocked the building, showering the block with bricks and glass to the surprise of hundreds of onlookers.
Annually after the fire, Seasons holds its “Burning Down the House” fundraiser benefiting Durango’s emergency responders through the 100 Club.
The 100 Club provides financial assistance to families of law enforcement and firefighters who are seriously injured or killed in the line of duty, and the club provides resources to enhance their safety and welfare.
Barger was elected to the La Plata Electric Association in 2015, but she was defeated by 17 votes by Tim Wheeler in May.
Her time on the board, she said, showed her she could find new venues to help people.
“I’m not sure I’m done. Maybe there’s something else out there for me,” she said.