VALLECITO – At the Fur Trappers Steakhouse and Bar at Vallecito Lake, co-owner Cheryl Marable raced around checking temperatures, waiting on tables, placing orders and managing operations. Marable, who always loved the building, jumped on the chance to buy it.
“I was like, ‘I have to have that building!’” she said.
Business is steady for the mountain man-themed, family-owned restaurant, which opened in May. Now that the restaurant and gift shop are up and running, the owners, Cheryl and Dwayne Marable, are gearing up for event catering and other expansions. Fur Trappers blends easily into the small, touristic mountain community of about 500 residents, where success means teaming up with the neighbors.
“It was a steep, huge learning curve for me,” said Cheryl, a first-time business owner who used to work in medical billing. “Opening was a blessing and a relief that we could finally get it done.”
The restaurant is a family affair. Dwayne, Cheryl and their daughter, Casta, all share management duties. During a year of renovations, Cheryl and Dwayne spent their days at full-time jobs and the rest of their time working on the restaurant. “We had no lives,” Cheryl said.
The restaurant and bar features acoustic performances, conference rooms and lakefront property. Rustic, mountain decor, like stag heads and antique traps, hang on the walls and old Westerns play on the television.
The food fits the theme, with trapper-era dishes like duck, bison and quail. The bar also serves Prohibition-style cocktails with house-made ingredients. The variety doesn’t stop there.
The menu features po’ boy sandwiches, Louisiana-style gumbo and domestically sourced catfish.
“We wanted a mixture of everything, a little of this, a little of that,” Cheryl said.
The theme harkens back to a simpler time, which, to the Marables, embodies the Vallecito area. They drew inspiration from the 1800s, when fur trappers, Native Americans and other travelers would gather at Rocky Mountain Rendezvous for festivities and trading.
The restaurant is the first new business in Vallecito for years, said Jim Schank, owner of Schank House, a restaurant that used to be in Fur Trappers’ current location. The new restaurant has great food and provides a place for people to socialize, he said.
“It’s an awesome location with beautiful views,” Schank said. “The backyard is spectacular.”
In Vallecito, residents make sure everyone succeeds. “It’s a community effort up here. We all help each other,” Cheryl said. She could run to a neighbor if she ever ran out of an ingredient, and the businesses in town coordinate their hours to reduce direct competition and keep places open for customers throughout the week.
“We are a small community, so we all have to succeed together,” Schank said.
The restaurant is year-round, which for a town with a seasonal economy is a “big deal,” Cheryl said. They’re currently gearing up for the fall and winter with new seafood dishes, local Christmas-themed consignment items in the gift shop and a fire pit in their backyard.
“There’s a lot of room for us to grow now that we’re finishing the first season,” said General Manager Chad Riddles.
They’re also expanding the patio space to include a pool table and jukebox, and they are ready to start catering and hosting events and weddings, Riddles said.
“I want to expand, and with the community, that will help, too,” Cheryl said. “We need to bring people up here.”