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March 06, 2014 8:19 am

EDITORIAL: New restaurants mean economic development for downtown Powell

Written by Ilene Olson

Powell stands to gain another quality restaurant soon, following approval of the city’s last retail liquor license by the Powell City Council on Monday.

The council had a tough choice to make, and we believe it chose correctly by siding with a proposal that will fill an empty storefront downtown, aid economic development in Powell and offer additional dining choices to residents and visitors.

The license will go to Dr. Valerie Lengfelder, her husband Matt Lengfelder and their business partner Christopher Cox, who plan to open WYOld West Brewing Co. at 221 N. Bent St., which formerly housed the Discount Appliance store.

The WYOld West proposal was backed by a letter from Jaime Schmeiser, executive director of the Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce, which cited support by the chamber and the newly-formed Main Street Affiliate.

“It will provide more of a choice in the selection of businesses in our community that would support more visitor-ship from tourists, school sporting events and surrounding communities such as Cody, Lovell, Ralston and Byron; it would help our community maintain a healthy, sustainable downtown core,” Schmeiser wrote.

She said the chamber also supports the plan because it includes 1,000 square feet of meeting space as well as a restaurant and micro-brewery, “which will be a fundamental part of attracting more conferences and conference participants.”

In his letter of support, Bruce Morse, regional director for the Wyoming entrepreneur Small Business Development Center, said WYOld West will be a draw for foot traffic and to people outside of Powell.

“By being open in the evening, it will potentially enhance activity at not only other retail establishments, but also the theater and Plaza Diane,” Morse wrote.

WYOld West is the latest of several restaurants to be announced or opened in recent weeks. We believe the new restaurants will fill a need for more choices and a greater variety of options for dining out in Powell. That need was stressed recently through steering committee meetings organized by the Powell Economic Partnership.

In another letter, PEP Executive Director Christine Bekes wrote, “Powell Economic Partnership would like to acknowledge the identification of restaurants and dining establishments as a community-wide vision for the town of Powell as part of the current strategic planning process. The proposed business of a microbrewery and restaurant with banquet facilities meets this community-identified need. This business also potentially addresses two other strategies, including value-added agriculture and tourism.”

PEP will roll out its strategic plan in April.

Additional new eateries recently opened or announced for downtown Powell include:

• The Depot, a new family-style restaurant that opened Friday at 117 S. Bent St., next to Hansel and Gretel’s. Located in the former Anna’s Cafe building, The Depot is operated by Andy Fulton, formerly the chef at the Powell Golf Club.

• The Red Zone, a sports bar and grill, opened about a month ago at 124 N. Bent St., which once housed Table 7 and Time Out. Originally envisioned as a bar that served food, the Red Zone has gravitated to become a restaurant that also provides drinks, its owners say.

• Within a few months, Classic Lanes will open under new ownership, with plans to provide food service as well as bowling for recreation.

The owners of these new businesses obviously see an opportunity for economic development here. We believe they’re right, and we wish them the best in their endeavors.

Another need identified by PEP is additional quality motel/hotel accommodations in Powell.

Frequently, people who travel to Powell for meetings, events, sports competitions and other gatherings end up seeking hotel and motel rooms in Cody because of insufficient availability here.

An entertainer interviewed recently by the Powell Tribune was asked what he knew about Powell. His answer was, “I know I tried to find a hotel room in Powell, but I will be staying somewhere else.”

The addition of these new restaurants, which will augment the fine ones we already have, should make it more attractive for someone who might be considering building or renovating hotels or motels here.

We applaud the owners’ forward thinking and hope the new restaurants, along with other positive changes underway, are the start of something big for downtown Powell.

2 comments

  • Comment Link March 06, 2014 2:20 pm posted by Salty Dawg

    Annas Cafe was better.

  • Comment Link March 10, 2014 6:17 pm posted by Shirley Tidwell

    I have dined at the Red Zone, and their burgers are very good, and the service was excellent. It's not just a bar with food, but a family environment for lunch and dinner.

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