The Cornerhouse bar and grill, or just “the House” as it’s locally known, has for roughly two decades served as a surrogate living room for Telluride locals and visitors alike – complete with big screen televisions, comfort food and a fully stocked bar. This Telluride institution’s long-burning torch was recently passed to new owner Kenny Rosen, who’s poised to carry the Cornerhouse tradition into its next decade.
“Back in the old days, this was a place everyone would hang out,” from ski patrollers and lift operators gathering after their work shifts to softball and broomball teams celebrating victories, Rosen says. “I want to bring that element back… carrying on the tradition while making it a little more festive.”
Rosen knows the Cornerhouse’s “old days” well: He was a bartender there in the mid-1990s, when Tom Wirth was owner. “It always struck me as a great place, and it was part of what attracted me to stay in Telluride,” Rosen says of the friendly small-town environment that has become emblematic of the House.
In addition to Rosen’s long-standing relationship with the House, the restaurant/bar’s new owner also boasts a solid working knowledge of ski town restaurateurship. Rosen and business partner Jen Hayes are the masterminds behind The Sweet Life, Telluride main street’s iconic ice cream shop and hamburger joint. They opened the now-legendary Sweet Life in 2003, as a means to “find something I could call a career so that I could stay here,” Rosen says. Later, they expanded the Sweet Life dynasty to include branches in Mountain Village and Snowmass.
Rosen left Telluride in 2008 to open and operate the Snowmass Sweet Life, and it was over the course of the past two years there during which he realized the hold Telluride had over him.
“I was homesick,” he says, explaining that his new, solo venture as Cornerhouse’s owner evolved out of a desire to come back to Telluride and “find something new to focus on for the next decade or so.”
The restaurant officially changed hands from Clay Skinner, who had owned and operated the House for much of the last decade, to Rosen in February. Rosen says, however, that customers will get their first taste of the “new” Cornerhouse this summer, with new specials and some changes on tap for the upcoming season.
Perhaps the most dynamic change to the Cornerhouse agenda under its new ownership is the addition of late-night food, to be served until midnight Tuesdays through Saturdays. Cornerhouse fans can also expect more food and drink specials, like the coming Taco and Tequila Tuesdays (with $1 tacos, $3 tequila shots, and $4 margaritas.)
Rosen adds that he’s also committed to pricing all beer and drinks at “a little less than Telluride prices,” in hopes of drawing more locals and, with them, more buzz amid the tourist crowd about this locals’ favorite haunt. Four-dollar well drinks, $3 Miller High Life, and $2 Pabst Blue Ribbons have so far been music to locals’ ears this off-season.
The refurbished back deck and expanded seating area out front are expected to be big draws for the summer crowd, as will the “Every third pitcher free” deal for Town League sports teams. Rosen says he’ll also make sure that all professional sports teams have some game time on the big screens (especially for the fall college and pro football seasons.)
“I just hope to build on what it has been known for in the past – good food and a good crowd,” Rosen says of the Cornerhouse’s next chapter in Telluride history.
The Cornerhouse is located at 131 North Fir Street.