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Peck House operators to retire

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St. Clairs ran historic hotel for more than 30 years

By Ian Neligh

After more than 30 years, Empire’s historic Peck House Hotel and Restaurant is closing when owners Sally and Gary St. Clair retire.

The St. Clairs plan to close the celebrated business on April 15 to the public and to large groups by the end of May. They plan to continue living in the hotel.

Wendy Koch, Empire mayor and longtime town resident, said the shuttering of the hotel and restaurant marks the end of an era.

“Empire is losing a big piece of history,” Koch said. “Gary and Sally have tried really hard, (but) we all reach a point where we need to have the retirement stage of our lives.”

“It was a hard decision,” Sally said. “We’ve gotten a little older, and that work has gotten a little harder, I have to admit, but it was a hard decision because we’ve had 33 wonderful years here. I mean, we came here on our honeymoon.”

Legacy

Thirty years ago, when the St. Clairs came across the Peck House, they saw not only a business opportunity but a chance to start a new family together.

Gary had operated a restaurant in Greeley with his three children from his first marriage. Sally said part of the reason they moved to Empire to operate the Peck House was to make them a more cohesive family, a move that worked.

“We’ve basically been here our whole married lives, so it was hard to think of us as a family within the hotel and not actually be doing what we love to do,” Sally said. “But there’s always an end to everything and … you kind of wake up one day and go, ‘Oh, my goodness, it is time to do something other than work,’ so it just seemed like a logical time to do it.”

Sally and Gary, both 70, plan to retire and live at the Peck House.

“We have two donkeys and two mules, and they’re across the creek. We have a barn and a pasture, and so it doesn’t make much sense to relocate,” Sally said. 

Sally said that when starting the business, the couple saw themselves as custodians of Colorado history, given the number of antiques and other historic items that came with the building. As such, Sally said, they don’t plan to sell any of it. Rather, they hope to leave the items for whomever might buy the business in the future.

The road ahead

Sally said she’ll miss people she knew through running the hotel.

“We live here, and for us, it is kind of a social outlet, and people are here pretty much all the time,” Sally said. “You kind of have a role that everybody knows you as, and suddenly we’re going to be much more anonymous. Some of that is good; some of that is bad.”

When asked what she won’t miss about running the Peck House, Sally joked that she wouldn’t miss making beds.

“I won’t say that any of it has been really bad. It has been a good ride,” Sally said.

Contact Ian Neligh at couranteditor@evergreenco.com, and check www.clearcreekcourant.com for updates and breaking news.