WOODLAND PARK — A family-owned Woodland Park institution is closing down after nearly 40 years of business. For its owners, it was just the opportunity they’d been waiting for.
Rewind back to 1994.
“It was a very big decision for me,” Cindy Johannes said.
Johannes’s husband, Kevin, told her he wanted to purchase the Circle H Smokehouse, where he’d been working since 1984.
“That was his dream,” Johannes said. “He always wanted to own his own restaurant.”
But Cindy was on the fence.
“I almost said I don’t want to do it,” she said.
Until something pushed her.
“He worked open to close seven days a week,” she said. “So we just said okay let’s just go for it and see what happens.”
And today, nearly four decades after her husband took the job there, her family still owns the restaurant.
Her kids got involved over the years. It became the family’s second home.
“We all had a good time. We had a good time working together,” Johannes said.
It became a community hub too, consistently packed with locals and tourists.
“Some of those people ate in here every day,” she said.
But just like when she bought the place, the onset of the pandemic put her on the fence again.
“Back and forth, back and forth,” she said.
She and her husband were tired. They’d been thinking about retirement for a while.
“When you’re sitting around at home, not really doing much, you sure have a lot of time to think,” she said. “One day I just had to make a decision. I said okay, what are you feeling right now. I said okay that’s it.”
They’d made the hard decision.
“November… I think 14th was our last day,” Johannes said.
She offered to pass the business down to her kids.
“And neither one of them wanted it,” she said.
That’s why the ‘for sale’ signs went up earlier this month.
Johannes is content, knowing it’s what she wanted.
“I don’t think it’s too sad, you know,” she said. “I just hope things go quick and I can get out and do something… see what the other world’s doing.”
And for this family institution, the keys are ready to turn for another entrepreneur all over again.
“It’ll do good for someone,” she said.