Village Talk

Meat Lovers Rejoice at Benderz and Ed’z

New restaurants fill a double-decker void left by the closure of Larkburger in Edwards.

By Devon O’Neil November 28, 2022 Published in the Winter/Spring 2023 issue of Vail-Beaver Creek Magazine

Image: Brent Bingham

James Pavelich, Noah Bender, and Steve Shelman have steadily built their Vail Valley restaurant group over the years—first with Northside Kitchen, then Benderz Burgers, then Benderz Southside and Northside Grab-and-Go, and finally, in 2021, Fattoria. Now their influence extends downvalley to Edwards, where the trio recently opened Benderz and Ed’z.

Benderz took over the all-familiar space that was the original Larkburger in Edwards Village Center. (A pre-pandemic grease fire closed the iconic burger spot from chef Thomas Salamunovich, and it never reopened.) For those already acquainted with the Benderz or Benderz Southside menus, the Edwards offerings are vastly simplified: “We’re serving our famous six-ounce fresh Angus burger, ahi-grade tuna sandwich, and a chicken sandwich, plus fries, shakes, soda, and beer,” says Pavelich. “Just those few items—oh, and two salads.” The idea is fresh, fast, and affordable—and dare we interject, reminiscent of Larkburger. The space itself got a full re-do and now has a few more seats than the original.

The second restaurant, Ed’z in Edwards—in the vacated space of The East, across Highway 6 off Edwards Access Road—is a new concept for the group, but not for the valley: think chef Riley Romanin’s Revolution Rotisserie at Beaver Creek Lodge, now Alpine + Antlers. If you have a hard time visualizing where Ed’z is located, Pavelich commiserates. “There’s not one description that lets people know where it is,” he muses. “But there’s an Alpine Bank there, so let’s say that.” The premise of Ed’z is rotisserie comfort food. If you immediately think of chicken roasting on a spit, you’re correct, but there’s also pork shoulder, lamb shoulder, duck, ribs, and even veggies on the rotisserie. Plates are generous (the rotisserie chicken dinner includes half a bird and two sides) and prices, with small exceptions, range from $24 to $34.

With two big display rotisseries, “it’s going to be really cool and different [for Edwards],” Pavelich says. The restaurant has 120 seats and serves lunch and dinner. Come summer, there will be additional seating on the covered patio to the south and a west-facing deck that overlooks the Eagle River Preserve.

As for the name, Ed’z, Pavelich says it’s a reference (with a big wink) to history. What’s true: Long before the town was called Edwards, the townsite was known as Berry’s Ranch. In 1883, Denver and Rio Grande Railroad officials changed the name to Edwards in reference to Melvin Edwards, who was elected Colorado’s secretary of state. Despite being a resident (and the postmaster) of Red Cliff, the Edwards moniker stuck. What’s fudged: Today Ed’z pays tribute to “Ed.” Pavelich shortened Melvin’s last name and embellished it with a colorful tale that after a day’s work at the post office, Ed loosened his tie and went home to enjoy a snack of lobster deviled eggs. The dolled-up deviled eggs currently listed on the Ed’z menu hail from “Ed’s old recipe from 100 years ago,” Pavelich says. And just how did he get lobster in Colorado in the late 19th century? “The Pony Express,” Pavelich laughs. And with that, the vibe of Ed’z in Edwards—fun, light-hearted, and comfortable—is established.

105 Edwards Village Blvd, Edwards

69 Edwards Access Rd, Edwards

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