The Great Big Why: Joe Ouellette

Ognyan Chobanov ©

Joe Ouellette, co-owner of Taco Del Gnar in Ridgway and Telluride, just doesn’t want to see the industry become a shadow of its former self.

Our industry is on the crest of an unprecedented evolution, and it is terrifying. The food and beverage world already battle unsteady circumstances from the moment doors open for service. In the shadow of this pandemic we have new regulations, minimized seating, and the potential of fickle patronage, as well as the unknown of what’s to come tomorrow, next week, and next year.

The stress level for restaurants, taverns, and all the people making them function is incredibly amplified. We are all trying to stay optimistic that our patrons will continue to support [us] and be appreciative of the efforts we put forth despite our struggles. I’ve seen and heard of acclaimed restaurants, staple drinking establishments, and grassroots startups closing their doors. It would be tragic to see our nation’s food mecca, which we’ve collectively achieved, slip into the ’90s suburban big-block blasé.

I’m immensely proud of our communities and the hard-working folks on the front lines. Most of all, I am thankful to do what I am passionate about and for the dedication that our guests continue to show [us]. That is exactly why we are here and why we continue to do what we do in the face of challenges and unknowns. If we do not adapt, we fail, and we would rather help pave a new direction for the industry we love than to see it fade. 

What is your “why”? Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here