Gene Mackey, Allenspark. One of the fine gourmet restaurants in the Boulder foothills, The Fawn Brook Inn, in Allenspark, has closed its doors. For thirty-nine years Hermann and Mieke Groicher have served a loyal clientele that over the years included children and grandchildren of patrons who made the Fawn Brook experience a family tradition. The attraction has not only been the rich hearty cuisine served by Austrian born chef Hermann but also Mieke’s welcoming charm, all in the ambiance of the old log structure.
The building was built in the 1920s from fire-sealed logs. In 1935 Augusta Mengedoht bought the place and named it the Fawn Brook Inn. Augusta came from Nebraska healing from a broken back and a broken marriage, but despite these things, or maybe because of them, she was hard as nails and able to ride and shoot like any man. She wasn’t afraid of anything be it lions or bears. She shooed her own horses and was authorized by the Allenspark Chamber of Commerce to, “continue her good work maintaining the South St. Vrain Road for the Federal Bureau of Roads.” She made the place a hunting lodge taking in paying guests, serving food, and even teaching them to shoot. The restaurant changed hands over the years but retained the name.
Hermann was born in a small village in Austria and started cooking for hotels in Switzerland at the age of 18. After studying there for three years he was advised to see the world to expand his knowledge and experiences. He worked across Europe and then Wales and came to Texas where he prepared meals for the astronauts. He went back to visit an aunt in the hospital in Switzerland in 1967 and met the girl of his dreams.
Mieke was born in Holland. Both she and Hermann lived through the Nazi occupation of their countries when they were children. Mieke remembers a Jewish family down the street being taken away and the SS occupying their home for the rest of the war. She became a nurse and was caretaking a woman who said her nephew was coming from America. Mieke remembers she wasn’t really impressed but when she met Hermann it was love at first sight and they were married within the year. They came to Boulder in 1969 and Hermann worked as head chef for the Greenbrier Inn. About that same time, he also opened the Catacombs bar at the Boulderado Hotel (this was the first bar in the city as Boulder was a dry town at the time).
When they bought the Fawn brook in 1979 they immediately became an integral part of the community, often hosting charity benefits and community potlucks. A popular event has been the Christmas Eve potluck. This occasion started as a family dinner because the restaurant was always open on Christmas day so the family celebrated on Christmas Eve. After their children grew up and moved away they started opening it to the rest of Allenspark, to the great benefit of the community.
They released a cookbook in 2008 that includes all the famous Fawn Brook recipes that people have loved. The book is a combination photo album of Hermann and Mieke’s life in Allenspark running the Fawn Brook and raising their children, family remembrances from those times, a mini cooking primer with tips for cooking gourmet and high-altitude food, and a complete compliment of recipes that people have grown to love from Hermann’s years of experience cooking rich food for famous people. Recipes include Roasted Turkey with Apricot-Chestnut dressing, Vegetarian Strudel, Hermann’s famous Chocolate Mousse, as well as complete gourmet dinners with suggestions for aperitif, appetizer, soup, salad, main entree, wine selection, dessert, coffee, and after dinner drinks. The book is still available on Amazon.
The new owners are currently running the Rock Creek Tavern and Pizzeria in Allenspark. They plan to move that business into the Fawn brook under the name of Rock Creek Pizza and serve hamburgers and sandwiches along with their famous pizza. They hope to be open for business in the new location after the first of the year.