In December of 2016, a new restaurant named Almresi opened at the top of Bridge Street in the heart of Vail Village in Vail, CO. German, Swiss and Austrian fare was nothing new in the Village; this ski resort town was already known for its European roots. After all, the ski resort’s founders were inspired by their time in the Alps and wanted to recreate the Bavarian look and feel when they developed the area in the 1950s. But when Almresi welcomed guests into the completely renovated space, locals and visitors alike knew that this was something new and special.
Created by the Thoma family, who originally hails from Germany’s Black Forest region, Almresi’s differences start in the design. The walls, ceiling and beams are covered in rustic wood panels reclaimed from farms in Austria and Germany before being shipped to and installed in Vail. The result is a warm and welcoming feeling like you’d find in a mountain hut in the Alps without an overload of antlers. Faux fur throws, cow hides and small stools reaffirm the mountain chalet atmosphere and almost everything comes from Austria or Germany, carefully chosen with Diana Thoma’s impeccable eye.
Everything in Almresi is a family affair. Franz Thoma, the patriarch, first lived and worked in Vail in the 1980s and provided the first tie to the area; he and his wife, Diana, own and operate two restaurants in Germany. Daughter Alyssa worked at Sonnenalp in Vail for two years and helped find the space where Almresi resides and agreed to manage the new restaurant. Her brother Joshua soon joined her in running the operation, with direction from their parents.
Featuring not just German fare but also Austrian and Swiss flavors, Almresi’s menu is thoughtful and concise. Conjured directly from the Alps, classics like Schweinshaxe, a pork shank with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes, and Resi’s Schnitzel are featured beside new favorites like Resi’s Lachs (steamed salmon with a light butter-lime sauce served with spinach and rosemary potatoes), Alpengnocchi with chestnut truffle filling and tomato-gorgonzola sauce, and foie gras bratwurst. An Austrian original is also a new tradition in Vail: Hutessen is a favorite with families that enjoy the hands-on experience of cooking beef and veal to their own preference along with salad, potatoes and various dipping sauces.
“It’s food for your heart,” Joshua Thoma said.
Almresi is an unparalleled success: Almost four years later, reservations are required for most weekends. However, the Thomas weren’t finished feeding the skiers, hikers and other mountain lovers who visited Vail.
In 2018, the Thomas purchased Alpenrose, a popular restaurant that had been serving up German fare and favorites for almost 40 years. The family provided a breath of fresh air for the beloved establishment while retaining its best features, like the expansive deck that invites guests to indulge in après.
Like Almresi, the menu at Alpenrose showcases Austrian, German and Swiss dishes that will chase the chill from your bones. Warming soups like potato soup, pea stew with sausage and a ravioli-filled consommé are on offer, as are hearty entrees like our Bavarian Pork Schnitzel or Bratwurst with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.
A few favorites from Almresi, like the Rösti and the crispy pork shank, have migrated to Alpenrose (“because they’re too good not to have them,” Joshua Thoma said), but the menu also features new dishes like the Walliser tomaten-kasefondue, a tomato cheese fondue that the Thomas discovered in Zermatt, Switzerland. Duck, lamb, veal, pork and chicken are presented in dishes both familiar and new, but there are vegetarian options as well.
The Thomas weren’t quite finished, though: In December 2019, the family opened Almresi Aspen in the Dancing Bear’s mountainside building. Like the original Almresi in Vail (a second location can be found in Stuttgart), this third Almresi location offers a menu that also includes dishes from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. And as with the other locations, practically everything in the space—from the wooden tables to the recycled barnwood paneling to the red-checked curtains to the dishes—was imported from Germany.
As the 2022-23 ski season approaches, the Thomas are in the midst of hiring for the winter season. As a family-run business, everyone who works at Almresi or Alpenrose becomes part of the Thoma family. If you’re interested in working as in either Vail or Aspen this winter, contact Alyssa Thoma at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Check out Almresi’s or Alpenrose’s website.