For anyone walking down Buena Vista’s East Main Street, it is difficult to miss the new construction on the north side of the street. Two buildings sandwiching the historic brothel have been rising this summer. The new mixed-use complex is a collaboration between CKS Main Street and the Buena Viking, and will be their future home once construction is completed. It will also provide new services for locals and visitors alike.
Buena Viking owners Anna and Evan Winger and CKS River Supply owners Megan and Brad Kingman are cautiously optimistic that the buildings will be completed by November of this year, with doors hopefully opening mid-to-late November, though that depends on construction.
Alongside The Buena Viking and CKS Supply, the building will also be home to the Shorehouse Hotel and the Even Keel Lodge. The Lodge will be located on top of the Buena Viking and feature two studio rentals and a penthouse apartment.
“The Even Keel Lodge is a resting spot for travelers craving to be in the soul of Main Street, Buena Vista. The rentals are motivated by the Scandinavian use of the word Hygge and aim to be simple, soft, and cozy,” said Anna Winger. “Our travels in Norway are inspiring the architecture and livability of the spots. The name Even Keel Lodge comes from our passion to keep this Viking ship upright!”
The Buena Viking food truck has been a staple of the Buena Vista summer food scene. Currently located in the alley behind the Buena Vista Roastery Café, the truck is finishing up its seventh season. Winger explained that they are excited to expand their menu and offerings in their new venue as a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
“Patrons can look forward to some healthier salad options because people should take a break from loaded tots for at least one month a year… But really, we are working hard on a more inclusive menu with the same tried and true burger options,” said Winger. “The Buena Viking also plans on a full bar and rooftop patio to compliment their food offerings. “Our team is excited to have the time and space to really play with our menu and offerings.”
But what brought these businesses together for this collaboration?
Megan Kingman described the Wingers as some of their closest friends. When they purchased the lot in December 2020, the Kingmans knew they wanted to build something incorporating the historic brothel in the center. They envisioned a concept with businesses on either side, featuring a courtyard in the center to showcase the historic building. Knowing their friends were looking for a permanent spot for the Buena Viking, the Kingmans offered them a chance for collaboration.
“We knew our business, CKS River Supply and The Buena Viking, had good energy together, and we know that Anna and Evan have great taste,” said Kingman. “We have watched them beautifully remodel their own home and create a fun, vibrant space for their food truck. We wanted partners in this project who saw life the way we see it, not too seriously, and whose design aesthetics would jibe with ours. So together we’ve embarked on a mission to bring life to that historic brothel that’s been isolated for too long on Main Street.”
Winger explained that they had all been renting their locations while working to build their businesses and craved a permanent home to call their own. When the Kingmans purchased the property and offered the lot to the Viking, the Wingers seized the opportunity. “While there are pros and cons to owning versus renting, I can safely say we are all excited to own a piece of Main Street dirt to keep growing our individual businesses.”
It helps that the Wingers and Kingmans have been friends and neighbors for seven years in their businesses. The friendship began on the river. Now the couples are raising kids together and working to make their business dreams come true. For the Buena Viking, the opportunity to have a location open through every season is another benefit.
A New Local Hangout
The Wingers are excited at the prospect of serving locals more effectively now that they will be able to keep doors open year-round.
“The past few years the months we are open are extremely inundated with the tourism industry. Evan and I miss the days of The Buena Viking being a locals hangout and hope we are recreating that for at least some of the year. We are excited for all the off-season collaborations we can make happen with CKS River Supply.”
The buildings will share a patio area for customers to shop, eat, and drink. They hope to make a welcoming location suited as a social gathering spot for both locals and visitors.
The Shorehouse website explains that “the goal of this project is to create spaces that feel wholly of this town, and supports the fun, lighthearted spirit that brings people here.”
CKS owner Megan Kingman is enthusiastic about staying true to this goal. “This space is going to be rad! Buena Vista is a special place, it encourages community, and the people who live here are kind and full of life and laughter. The outdoors are our most cherished treasure and we created a space to celebrate open air, great views, and interaction with indoor and outdoor spaces. These new buildings are designed to create a ‘honey pot’ of vibrance [with] a central courtyard that will be open, lively and reflective of our community and our outdoor spaces.”
Megan and husband Brad have lived in Buena Vista on and off since 2006. They began as raft guides and eventually decided to make a life in the area. “Buena Vista stole our hearts and brought us back for a reason. We want to share that reason with those who come to stay, recreate, and eat in our spaces,” said Kingman.
When asked what she was most excited for with the new site, Kingman ruminated on the impending completion of construction and having a space to pass along to generations of family. But ultimately she cited the artist collaborations lined up to give local flair to the project.
“Each of the Shorehouse Hotel rooms will have an artist to adorn the walls and fill the space with their energy. I have chosen four women artists from Chaffee County who inspire me in their personal lives, their approach to life, and their passions,” said Kingman. “Each room is designed to mimic the artist’s style. The names of the Shorehouse Hotel rooms and their content will be a nod to Buena Vista’s history and river culture.”
The Kingmans have lived abroad and managed resorts and worked in hospitality for a number of years. They lived and traveled to places across the world but always felt pulled back to Buena Vista. They moved here full time in 2012. Though their primary job has been CKS, they have experience building houses, remodeling, and feel passionate about designing a space with intentionality. “This project is a culmination of our passions – our store, our valley, our experience and our design all in one,” said Megan.
The Wingers say they look forward to the future this project promises.
“We are so excited to be collaborating with Megan and Brad. Our visions align, and through all of the ups and downs of getting these things built, we’ve grown and learned and can’t wait to create this special spot in Buena Vista together,” said Anna Winger. “We all hope our kids are running fryers and schlepping kayaks sooner than later, and along with building our businesses, we are creating a permanent home for our families.”