801 East 2nd Avenue
Co-Founders: Kris Oyler & Brian McEachron
Opened: September 14, 1996
Where did the name Steamworks come from?
We chose the name Steamworks to play into the industrial character of Durango with the "steam- powered" narrow gauge railroad. As you know, one of our award-winning craft beers is Steam Engine Lager. The building is historic as well. It is very emblematic of Durango as more of a hard-working, entrepreneurial town, and our business falls right in line. Our name conveys everything we want to say.
Why did you locate your business in Durango?
We looked at a lot of locations both in-state and out-of-state. I literally toured the country to find the right spot. I visited Durango in July 1994 and decided to stay and start the business here. It was a lifestyle opportunity, as well as a business opportunity.
What sets you apart from other restaurants?
Our Culture - how we treat our employees as well as our concern for the community. We embrace the business as a family. Co-founder Brian McEachron and I grew up in family restaurants and that's how we approach it - a lot less corporate and a lot more family - taking care of people. At the same time we endeavor to embrace our community. I regularly challenge the staff that if they know of a non-profit that we haven't supported through donations of time, money, food or beer, to let me know. I think we have essentially covered them all in La Plata County. We also want to hear about our customers' passions, the things they care about, and they, in turn, then support us.
Tell us a little History on your building.
Our building was built in the early 1920s by P.W. Pittman. It was Pittman Motorworks and we’ve got an old photo framed and hanging in the bar. The Steamworks building has always housed some type of auto-related business, including a service shop, auto dealership, and tire shop before we transformed it into a brewpub in 1996. Ironically, P.W. Pittman, a Jehovah’s Witness, never touched alcohol in his life, and then we changed his building into a brewery. We've had some eerie things occur. Some are convinced the building remains haunted by Mr. Pittman.
What is the secret to a successful business in a small town?
Culture and community. Taking care of your people and taking care of your community. You can't just be here to make money. You have to help out everyone else in your community.
There have been lots of ups and downs throughout our 21 years. The catch phrase that I like to say is "four yards and a cloud of dust" - an old football analogy. Keep your head down and keep chugging away. With the exception of one year, we have grown every year. I am proud of what we have accomplished. Dogged determination.
Tell us about the ingredients you use. Where do they come from?
As we've evolved as a culinary brewpub, we endeavor to source as many local ingredients as possible (including hops grown locally in our beers). Executive Chef Sean Clark has emerged as a culinary wizard (he is regularly invited to be an active part of "Plate" which is the culinary dinner at the Great American Beer Festival, and he was the first chef to present a food and beer pairing dinner at the prestigeous James Beard House in New York City (previously, they only invited wineries). With the increasing growth, no pun intended, of small local farms, we are able to source so many of our vegetables and meats locally, and do so as frequently as we can.
What is unique about your restaurant atmosphere?
Steamworks is all about having a fun experience. The interiors, which are rustic industrial, and reminiscent of the original use of the building, which was actually a motorworks building, provide a casual and we're-here-for-you dining experience. We're kid-friendly, and have baskets of chalk so the little ones can entertain themselves by drawing on the cement floor. Since opening, we've always had free baskets of peanuts, and you shell them, and just throw the shells on the floor. The brewery is in the center of the restaurant, so you can witness how the sauce is actually made in our large copper kettles. With our recent remodel, we've replaced the windows to ones that open, so there's great fresh air blowing through, but patrons can also sit on our back deck and enjoy the mountain view, or out front at our unique sidewalk garden.
What is your signature dish?
Most certainly our Cajun Boil. We've found that people come to Steamworks from all over the region and country because they've heard about this "meal" that is also entertainment. We have a special secret to our spices that create not only a unique meal, but spreading the shrimp, andoullie sausage, potatoes, corn and more across the table on a brown paper "tablecloth" for the whole table to dine together with "their fingers" is a fun-filled (and tasty) experience for all.