OURAY, Sept. 18, 6:52 a.m. – “Rick has come full circle in this town,” said Rich Smith, whose son recently opened O’Brien’s Pub at
Rick Smith – formally known as Richard L. Smith II – is no stranger to the pub scene, having hung out at as a child at the pub where his father worked his way through medical school. “I remember sitting at a barstool eating maraschino cherries. People would give me money to put in the jukebox,” Smith recalled.
When he got older, Smith traveled the country, following rock and roll band The Grateful Dead with his brother Chad, and going on extended climbing trips with his girlfriend (now wife) Jen.
During a tour of the Southwest, the couple followed Route 666 into
During a visit from his father, the three decided to drive the San Juan Skyway through the high mountains of Telluride and Silverton. They stopped in Ouray for lunch, and Smith and his wife fell in love with the town right away. On their way home the couple stopped in Silverton to buy a 1971 Volkswagen bus. As soon as they got back to Mesa Verde, Smith quit his job, and he and Jen packed up their belongings and headed back to Ouray.
“My first day in Ouray, I was mopping floors at the Cascade Grocery right here in this same building,” Smith said, gesturing to the building that now houses his pub. Smith worked there as well as at the Groundskeeper Coffee Shop.
He and Jen spent their first couple of years in Ouray living in the Volkswagen bus near
“It was a different town back then,” Smith said of Ouray. “It was pre-ice park; the winters were a lot quieter. The tourism was different too, much more blue-collar. You don’t have all those shops with the rubber tomahawks any more,” he said a bit wistfully.
Smith went on to work at Buckskin Booksellers and at Ouray Mountain Sports for several years. “It made it hard to start this business, because I loved my jobs and my bosses so much,” he said.
Always an avid reader, Smith counts Paulo Coelho, Ayn Rand and Christopher Moore among his favorite authors. “I think The Alchemist, by Coelho, is one of the best books ever written,” Smith said.
Today, Smith doesn’t have a whole lot of time to read, or climb, or travel. “I’m here at the pub from 8 or 8:30 in the morning until sometimes 2 or 3 a.m.,” Smith said. Jen is right there with him. When she’s done with her day job at the title company in Ridgway, she heads straight for the pub and starts working again until they are done for the night.
Named after his Irish grandparents, O’Brien’s Pub is a classic Irish pub with a
Smith’s father helped build the bar. “It’s red oak from an old barn in
“Lots of local craftsmen contributed so much to make this happen; people just came by and asked what they could do to help. I’m absolutely amazed at the local support Rick has received,” Smith’s father said.
In addition to being a bar owner, Smith is a member of the Extrication Team for