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The Silver Star Cafe offers a yurt experience

Structure adds more dining tables

The Silver Star Café has erected a yurt that will allow guests to dine while socially distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The yurt, which was ordered from the Colorado Yurt Company in Montrose, Colorado, will be in service until the spring.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

The Silver Star Cafe has added another element to its pandemic-era dining experience.

The local eatery, which has been featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” has erected a yurt on its patio for the winter.

The vinyl and wood structure adds nearly 452 square feet to the existing cafe space, and its six, socially distanced dining tables bring the cafe’s total to 12, said Lisa Ward, who owns the restaurant with her husband Jeff.



The cafe’s capacity before the pandemic was 13 tables, she said.

“So when you put the 6-foot spacing between guests, we only had six tables, because we don’t do 6 feet between tables,” Lisa said. “We do 6 feet between the backs of chairs, because our guests oftentimes will scoot their chairs back while dining. And that only left us with six tables in the cafe, which was not sustainable when you’re trying to keep 35 employees working.”



In addition to the socially distanced tables, the yurt is heated and ventilated, Jeff said.

“We installed a mini split, which is a heater like you see in hotel rooms,” he said. “The heater is in the yurt, and the compressor is split off of that and sits on top of our covered walkway.”

For atmosphere, the yurt also includes a mini electric fireplace.

“It’s set in what I would call a corner, but it’s a round room,” Lisa said with a laugh.

Other lighting includes on-table candles and lanterns, she said.

“We also installed some lights that come on at certain times of night,” Lisa said. “We put down some big area rugs. So it gets all cozy.”

The Wards began thinking of setting up a dining tent late last summer, Jeff said.

“We realized the spacing of the tables inside the cafe that adhered to COVID-19 protocols didn’t leave that much seating capacity,” he said. “It was not a significant issue all summer because we had patio tables, but looking towards winter we realized people wouldn’t be able to use the patio for dinner.”

Jeff contacted rental companies who offered wedding tents and the types of sturdy tents that are used during the Sundance Film Festival.

“The quotes that came in were really expensive, and some of the tents didn’t seem to be comfortable or weatherproof for what we needed,” he said. “So I also called around to a few different yurt suppliers.”

Jeff found he was one of the many business owners looking into yurts to help serve guests during the winter.

“(Yurts) were so in demand that some of these suppliers couldn’t entertain an order until the end of January,” he said. “And one yurt that we looked at was too big.”

After a few days of phone calls, Jeff discovered the Colorado Yurt Company in Montrose, Colorado.

“I talked with them and they said they could do it by the first week in December, which was perfect,” Jeff said. “I liked the yurt option because we were going to put on what we call the Golf Patio, the area that overlooks the golf course. We opted for that because there is an existing door that exits the cafe to the patio, and we could connect the yurt to the restaurant in one interior space.”

The Silver Star Cafe’s guests can access the new winter-dining yurt, which is located on the restaurant’s patio, from the restaurant’s main dining room.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

The Wards opted to upgrade the yurt for snow and wind, which included added insulation to the roof and ceiling and beefing up the rafters from two-by-four beams, to six-by-fours, because of Park City’s winter weather, Lisa said.

The Colorado Yurt Company also gave the Wards free rein on how many windows they wanted to include and where they wanted the doorways placed, she said.

“We’ve got three windows maximizing the view of the golf course from the patio, and we have one window that looks up towards the ski runs,” Lisa said. “We designed it to maximize the beauty of this particular spot of the property.”

After the city expedited the approval of the yurt’s construction, crews were able to set it up in less than two days, according to Jeff.

“Crews drove up from Colorado and they got some of it set up that day,” he said. “They woke up really early the next day and finished the framing.”

The Silver Star Cafe yurt will be in service until the spring, the Wards said.

“When people make reservations, we treat it like our regular table inventory, and book guests based on the size of the table and what we have available,” Jeff said. “But people can request to dine in the yurt, and we’ve had a number of parties do so already. When things calm down, we will have the ability to host private parties in here.”

Lisa is grateful to the city and the Homeowners Association for approving the yurt.

“We have an obligation to accommodate guests who come to support us as a small business, and we also have 35 employees that we need to think about during the pandemic,” she said. “This was a creative way of providing the space we needed to be able to do all of that.”

For information about the Silver Star Cafe and reservations, visit thesilverstarcafe.com.


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