So here’s the deal. After staying in the Heavenly Village area for a week, and after some recollection and deliberation; my wife and I identified a couple of key things we feel would fill Wolfgang Puck’s financially backed years of presence in that location, now occupied by a struggling establishment that is seemingly anticipating its own demise.
I’m talking about Gunbarrel Tavern and Eatery, located just below the Heavenly Gondola in a premier location that can immediately draw the attention of the vacationing traveler. Gunbarrel’s location used to be Wolfgang Puck’s quick-stop gourmet sandwiches and bites that drew a handsome crowd hoping to catch a bit of iconic culinary delight. Since our last visit Wolfgang’s place had closed and Gunbarrel has now taken over. I think the story actually has another establishment occupying the space for a short time until they decided the competition in the area was too fierce with Base Camp Pizza claiming the prize for drawing a crowd.
Of our list of considerations; first and foremost, it’s gonna have to keep pace musically . . . or I like to use “sonically” to compete with Base Camp. I use the word “sonically” because the music that is heard is the first thing that gets your attention around the Village, especially just departing the Gondola or even sitting at the pool of either of the two Marriott’s.
Next is customer interaction. Just across the Gondola’s path is Fire and Ice, another outdoor patio bar with large fire pits but no live music. What Fire and Ice has is a customer interactive Mongolian Grill inside, and again their directly under the Gondola location. Fire and Ice seems to have a good draw of customers, but the food is nothing I can’t get at most Mongolian grill/Chinese buffets near where I live. I won’t say I’ll never go back to Fire and Ice, but I’m not clammerin’.
A third factor we identified is a good breakfast with signature dishes, unique Benedicts and omelets; and you better have some bacon. We found no immediate breakfast being served in the direct location as all of the Village establishments seem to open just before the lunch hour. I didn’t see much of a breakfast crowd anywhere around the Village, other than a Starbucks directly next door to the Wolfgang location and another coffee/bakery/breakfast place on the far end. I hadn’t seen a crowd at the bakery place.
Finally another factor is smell. Base Camp’s kitchen can be smelled throughout the skating rink area of the Village because the prevailing breeze through that tunnel forces it that way. Wolfgang’s location can benefit from a constantly going California-style outdoor grill (visual), with tri-tips and chicken to provide the smell in the immediate Gondola area indicating their may be quick bites and sandwiches. I think it would be quite noticeable once the traveler or worker comes off the mountain. Not a Kansas City-style BBQ, but the clean smell of California Oak or Mesquite (native) hardwoods.
Finally, I have a motif . . . ok, call it a business plan idea. I saw this when visiting another establishment. Something definitely missing from the Village, and anywhere in South Lake Tahoe. Better yet, even a heavy tourist draw from the vacation traveler from all of the Lake Tahoe area. It just may do the trick up in South Lake Tahoe. I mean big time well!
You know how to get a hold of me…