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Queen Anne set to close tea house permanently, reopen as prime rib house

After 10 years in business, the owners of the Cañon City Queen Anne are swapping out their teacups and lace tablecloths for silver carts filled with reverse-seared prime rib.

The teahouse and fine dining restaurant, located at 813 Macon Ave., is celebrating its 10th anniversary today and has plans to permanently close the tea service Dec. 23. It will reopen the week of Valentine’s Day as the Cañon City Queen Anne Prime Rib House.

“That’s kind of bittersweet because it’s been 10 years,” said Linda Ballard, the restaurant’s co-owner and chef. “And so many of the ladies just love coming, but lunch and dinner are a little bit more than what we can do anymore. We need to de-stress, I guess you’d call it, just slow it down a little bit.”

But while Linda Ballard and her husband and co-owner, Al Ballard, have plans to slow down, they’re not coming to a complete stop.

In addition to the prime rib house, which will be open for a smaller number of days during the year, the couple is planning to start two new senior-focused businesses: interior design services and bus show tours.

“Linda is going to do consulting for interior design for seniors,” Al Ballard said. “And I’m going to do senior bus tours. So, we’re still going to do those two businesses in addition to doing the prime rib house.”

As part of the new fine dining experience, the Ballards will serve prime rib cooked by using a reverse-searing technique, which calls for baking the meat first and then finishing it on the grill. To give customers a personal dining experience, the couple will bring the meal out on a silver cart and serve each item directly to them.

“We get right in front of the customer, and we cut their personal slice of prime rib and serve it right in front of them,” Al Ballard said. “So, it’s not a typical restaurant service where someone comes out with a plate, puts it in front of you — there’s actually a presentation that comes with it.”

Additionally, Linda Ballard said that during its decade of serving high tea dinners, the restaurant has become known for its steak marinade, which is something they plan to keep as they transition to the prime rib house.

“We’ll still have the wonderful marinade that we use, have used, for 10 years here,” Linda Ballard said. “People love that one. So, why change anything on that one? That’s a winner.”

For their customers who don’t like prime rib, Linda Ballard said they plan to serve Cornish hens. Other menu items will include appetizers, specially-prepared bread, house wine, hot or cold French press coffee and tea, hand-tossed salads, air-popped bakes potatoes and a selection of desserts.

Linda Ballard said the prime rib house will be open Fridays and Saturdays for most of the year. In the rest of their time, the Ballards plan to focus on their other new businesses.

The ideas for the new businesses came from the Ballards’ experiences serving customers at the Queen Anne.

Linda Ballard, who worked as an interior designer before opening the Queen Anne, said many of her customers are seniors. In the time she has spent serving them, they’ve opened up about wanting live in their own homes, not necessarily in assisted living facilities.

“And I said, ‘Well, as an interior designer, I could help you downsize, I could help you with doing an ADA bathroom, maybe putting an ADA ramp on your place, and getting you into a point where you’re safe in your home,'” she said. “So, that kind of gave me the idea. Why not help them go do that?”

The senior show tours, which will start in the spring, will be hosted quarterly, with the Ballards acting as tour guides. Al Ballard said destinations include Branson, Mo., Nashville, the Smoky Mountains and one more area that has yet to be determined.

They also plan to take care of all of the seniors’ travel necessities — “their bus rides, the tickets, the meals, their luggage, that sort of thing,” Linda Ballard said. “So, a lot of sweet little ladies love to do that because they don’t like to travel alone. But at least if they’re with a group of people that they know … I think they’re comfortable with being with us.”

When the Ballards are gone on tours, they will close the prime rib house. Al Ballard said they plan to keep an updated calendar on their website for customers.

As the Ballards plan to transition to their new businesses, they said some of their best moments in the past decade have included the special events they have been part of in people’s lives.

From a 15-year-old girl who has spent every birthday at the Queen Anne since she was 5 to serving people from all over the world, the couple has been part of several memories. They said their goal has always been to serve people.

“That’s kind of our gift,” Linda Ballard said. “We feel good when we’re doing that.”

But as they open the tea house, Al Ballard said customers can expect the same level of service.

“We call them moments of magic and memories. We truly try to create something that when people walk away from something, they don’t forget it,” Al Ballard said. “If people have experienced the Queen Anne in the past, the transition to the prime rib house will be pretty natural to them.”

For more information about the restaurant, visit the canoncityqueenanne.com.

Sara Knuth: 719-276-7644, knuths@canoncitydailyrecord.com

Article source: http://www.canoncitydailyrecord.com/business/ci_31506620/queen-anne-set-close-tea-house-permanently-reopen

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