Three years ago, Casey Glowacki and his wife were visiting friends in Vail when their ski trip took a fortuitous turn; their friends were friends with Chris Irving and Pollyanna Forster, the (then) owners of Eat! Drink!—a boutique wine and cheese shop with an adjoining artisan butchery (Cut) and an upscale taqueria (Tacorico) anchoring a burgeoning retail cluster across from the Riverwalk on Highway 6 in Edwards.
“My wife and I went to their house and sat out on their deck in West Vail and had burrata and Riesling, and we just found ourselves fantasizing that it would be fun to live here,” recalls Glowacki. “And they happened to have a restaurant for sale—at the time it was Tacorico.”
That piqued Glowacki’s interest. Growing up in the Denver area, the Vail Valley was one of Glowacki’s most beloved stomping grounds—his grandfather grew up at Copper Mountain, and his fondest childhood memories were skiing at Vail with his dad. Glowacki spent three years in Telluride before life took him to South Carolina, where he settled in Charleston and opened Five Loaves Café, a frequently packed eatery in the heart of the city that served a hearty lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. The buzz about Five Loaves spawned another restaurant, then another, and another. By the time Glowacki found himself sipping Riesling on Irving and Forster’s deck in West Vail, 16 years had passed since he opened his Five Loaves, and he owned seven restaurants in the Charleston area with more than 300 employees. The idea of taking over Tacorico—which served crispy street tacos and salty margs to a mostly local crowd—got him thinking about expanding his business into Colorado.
“We did a walk-through and it was perfect; it screamed Five Loaves, and I thought I could bring that concept back here—my business partner came here to look; it was in October, it was quiet, and he wasn’t feeling the vibe,” says Glowacki. “But I had fallen in love with Edwards and the valley.”
Ultimately, Tacorico became Craftsman, a gourmet sandwich and burger and craft beer joint that Matt Morgan and Chris Schmidt (the managing partner and the former chef of Mountain Standard and Sweet Basil) opened in 2017. Despite that setback, Glowacki decided nonetheless to sell his stake in Five Loaves and figure out another way to move his family to Colorado. It was good timing. As he was preparing to close on a condo in the Riverwalk, he noticed that a butchery and wine and cheese shop next door to Craftsman had just gone on the market. When he found out that Irving and Forster were the sellers, it was a done deal.
“I emailed Chris and Polly about it immediately, and the rest is history,” says Glowacki. He officially took over the keys to Eat! Drink! in January of 2019 and closed the business for a month in May, working on a rebrand that included an interior overhaul—with help from Vail-based interior designer Dana Hugo—and a new concept, which debuted in June as the Drunken Goat.
Eat! Drink! devotees will still find a boutique fromagerie devoted to hard-to-source blocks of Dutch Gouda and triple-crèmes from France, and there’s still a small retail selection of gourmet olive oils, accoutrements, and charcuterie. Glowacki also kept the nook that houses what he says is “Colorado’s smallest liquor store,” which stocks a small selection of niche wine and craft spirits that cheese shop regulars can grab before they head out the door. The artisan butcher, Cut, also remained relatively unchanged, with one notable upgrade—former Matsuhisa head chef Brian Busker now staffs the counter.
Glowacki converted much of Eat! Drink!’s retail space into a cozy dining room with comfy couches, a polished concrete floor, hardwood high-tops, and walls finished to resemble the bark of aspen trees. The menu revolves around hot-pressed panini sandwiches, soup and salads for lunch, with plenty of shareables—like hot pots of fondue and bruschetta—plus large bites (like the braised short rib with cheesy grits) for dinner. Happy hour has been especially a hit, thanks to specials ($1.50 oysters!) and table-pleasing cheese and charcuterie platters (not to mention a sun-drenched patio for soaking in summertime sunsets), with an eclectic wine menu for interesting pairings.
“I’m not that comfortable in retail, but I’m comfortable in running a full-service restaurant,” he says of his rebranding of Eat! Drink! “We put a bathroom in, we flipped the service so now we are a restaurant that has a cheese shop as opposed to a cheese shop that has a restaurant … we really haven’t lost any clientele, we’ve just gained so much more.”
So has Edwards—a new place to gather, and eat! And drink!