Family-owned Juniper Valley Ranch restaurant thrives in pandemic

Juniper Valley Ranch
Posted at 10:28 PM, Oct 29, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS — As we work to rebound from the pandemic, we’re taking you to a family restaurant off Highway 115, where in their nearly 70 years of business, they’ve seen their times of change. They’ve learned to navigate the changes the pandemic has brought us while staying true to their roots.

Juniper Valley Ranch has been open since the 1950s and is currently being run by the fourth generation of the homesteading family.

“My grandparents and great-aunt started the restaurant in 1951,” owner Greg Dickey said.

Dickey took over operations in 1983 with the help of his wife and now his grown children, Preston and Olivia, who appreciate where they come from.

“Guy Parker was the second male born in Colorado Springs in 1875. He came and homesteaded the ranch across the street and our family has been living here for decades now,” Olivia Patterson said.

The restaurant offers the same menu since it opened on day one, with chefs working hard in the kitchen to make things from scratch each day from fried chicken, potatoes, gravy, and biscuits.

The restaurant also holds the same ambiance, with original paintings and murals, from the settler himself, who was a cowboy and a painter. The adobe-style building has other mementos from the past as well, giving guests a rustic feel, complete with round tables to help them pass the gravy and keep it “family-style” in more ways than one.

Guests can also feed the horses after-dinner mints and see the cows at the ranch.

“Kids especially will come and remember the animals. They are like ‘can we have mints to feed the horses?!’ Patterson said.

Just like so many other restaurants, the past few years things were going fantastic, until 2020 when the pandemic hit, and while everyone had to shut down, this restaurant which is seasonal was just getting ready to open up.

“I did qualify for PPP the first month of the shutdown so we could still bring staff on,” Dickey said, “It didn’t help me much, but it did pay my employees.”

When they eventually did open they had to navigate the new world of “take-out” and the loyal customers came through.

“The first weekend we sold out, we sold over 500 dinners. We were blown away,” Patterson said.

When restrictions relaxed they were able to start operating at 50 percent capacity and have been booked every night, having to even turn people away without reservations, owner Dickey said in nearly 70 years the restaurant has been through a lot, “The worst thing we went through changed business, 9/11 changed business drastically, then you get to this, and you can’t even open up. It was something weird. I’m ready to wash this year away and start over.”

Dickey said they’ll get through this too. The keys to success are his staff who work to make every guest feel at home, including those new and old, many who make this a tradition with their generations of family.

Juniper Valley Ranch is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights until it closes for the season in mid-December.

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