Adolph’s, one of Park City’s favorite restaurants – and sanctuary in Utah ski history – will close after nearly 50 years in business.
Park City • Erik Schlopy has the last reservation for the last night of work at Adolph’s restaurant.
The Olympic skier and Park City resident said on April 30, when the white tablecloth dining room closed for the last time – after nearly 50 years in business – that he wanted to be there to honor the moment with the owner. and founder Adolph Imboden.
“As skiers we don’t have a lot of American spots to go to – like they do in Europe – that really celebrate the sport like Adolph’s does,” Schlopy said. “It is a small fiber of our community that is torn. And it is sad.
Imboden founded his eponymous restaurant in 1974, and is believed to be the oldest fine dining restaurant in Park City. It has also become a link between food and sport in this mountain town.
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At one time or another, most of the best downhill skiers around the world have dined on Adolph’s European cuisine.
Signed photographs of these legendary athletes cover all the walls of the restaurant, making it a one-of-a-kind winter sports sanctuary. The photos are a Who’s Who of skiing history from Ted Ligety and Schlopy to Daron Rahlves, Bode Miller, Steven Nyman, Alberto Tomba and Hermann Maier.
Among Olympic and World Cup runners are photographs of bobsledders and ski jumpers, professional golfers and cyclists, Hollywood actors and legendary musicians.
Signed photos of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer hang above ‘table one’, the restaurant’s most coveted corner, as does a photo of Imboden’s longtime friend and ski buddy Stein Eriksen.
And for every photo, there’s a story of great food and drink – sometimes a little too much – and camaraderie.
“I was very lucky to have kept a restaurant for so long,” said Imboden, 78, “but also to have met all of these famous people and to be part of the ski community.
Since announcing the restaurant’s closure in early April, Imboden has been overwhelmed by the response from longtime patrons asking for a last taste of Adolph’s Swiss-style raclette; creamed veal and signature roast rack of lamb.
And also to wish Imboden good luck, because even more than European cuisine, it was the chef / owner – who has a way of making his guests feel at home – who attracted the guests.
When the Park City resort became a stopover on the World Cup tour in the mid-1980s, Adolph’s became a favorite spot for international skiers, especially those from Switzerland and Austria, to enjoy the European cuisine, atmosphere and hospitality.
“It was the perfect place for ski racers,” said Rahlves, noting that Imboden’s passion for skiing and racing was the toss. “We just wanted to hang out with him and enjoy his delicious food. There were times when it felt like everyone in the restaurant knew each other.
Imboden said he could have continued to operate the restaurant had the new owner allowed him to continue signing one-year leases on the building. But, he said, the new owners – who could eventually redevelop the property – were insisting on a longer deal.
Neither her daughter, Ashley, nor her son Nils – a brewer for Wasatch Brewing Co. – wanted to take over the family business.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Imboden said, saying it was time to hang up his boss’s coat and enjoy his other passions, which are skiing, cycling and scuba diving. Next winter, don’t be surprised if Imboden offers private dining at some of the posh homes around Park City.
Previously, the University of Utah worked with Imboden on making digital copies of all of his photos for his ski archives. Imboden says he should have time to work on a book that includes the photos, the stories, and maybe some of his recipes.
It starts in the Alps
Born and raised in Switzerland, Imboden dreamed of one day becoming an Olympic ski racer, but his mother and stepfather – his biological father died at the age of 5 – pushed him into the culinary world.
At the age of 16, he apprenticed at the famous Hotel Palace in Gstaad, his hometown, and finally obtained a diploma in hotel management. He was also a ski instructor in St. Moritz. Its students often included celebrities, royalty and, on one occasion, the Shah of Iran.
Later, Imboden got a green card and moved to the United States working in kitchens – and as a ski instructor – in Vermont, then at the Gasthof Gramshammer Hotel in Vail, Colorado.
In 1971, one of his Vail students happened to be friends with Edgar Stern, who at the time owned the Park City ski resort and had recently purchased Deer Valley. One thing led to another, Stern offered Imboden the post of director of food and beverage at the Park City complex.
Imboden said he accepted the offer, even though he had to ask, “Where’s Park City?”
Like many in the food world, Imboden ultimately wanted his own place. In 1974 he opened Adolph’s White Haus on Park Avenue. A few years later, he moved to the Park City Golf Course, where he stayed for 20 years. In 1997, Adolph moved to its current location at 1500 Kearns Boulevard, where there was a larger kitchen but a smaller dining area.
The restaurant was off the beaten track, but it could be easily spotted thanks to its wooden chalet exterior and colorful flags depicting major ski countries around the world.
At one point, the US Ski Team’s office was in the same building, making Adolph a regular place to take out-of-town and holiday party guests, said Trace Worthington, a freestyle legend and now NBC commentator.
“I feel like this is the most authentic place we have in Park City,” said Worthington, who has lived in Park City since 1993. “It’s something you can’t find in Connecticut or California. “
Worthington said that besides the raclette, wiener schnitzel and hefeweizen, which are the “real deal,” he loves the restaurant’s “old-school” atmosphere.
“Adolph always took the time to go around the tables and shake hands with everyone,” he said, “and the next thing you know… he was back in the kitchen on the train. to cook.
Park City is unlikely to have another restaurant or owner like Adolph’s or Imboden.
“We have more Olympians than any other city in the world, and Adolph recognized and appreciated that,” he said. “He liked it so much that he put it on the wall.