‘Who knows what’s next?’: Gray Cliff Lodge to close, owners retiring
For 44 years, Steve and Jody Sniggs have served up prime rib, mountain trout, cinnamon rolls and oatmeal pie at Gray Cliff Lodge in the Ogden Canyon.
In all, the restaurant has sat along Ogden Canyon Road for 78 years, serving hungry diners since 1945.
Soon, though — the end of the month — the streak comes to an end, unless the Sniggs find someone willing to take over the restaurant. They’re retiring and have put the locale and land where it sits up for sale.
“Who knows what’s next?” said Steve Sniggs, mulling life come Oct. 1. “I’m going to retire and we’ll go from there.”
The issue isn’t the business the operation generates. The Sniggs scaled back their days and hours of operation after the COVID-19 pandemic and have dealt with the same struggles many restaurants have faced — difficulty in finding employees and supply-chain issues. Still, they’ve kept afloat.
It’s been tough though, they say, and sometimes you reach that point in life when you want to do something different.
“Just too old and tired,” said Steve, who’s 75 and handles main cooking duties. “I’ve gone through cancer treatment. It’s trying to slow down and take it easy.”
Jody, who’s hoping to spend more time with her two granddaughters, would like someone to buy the spot and keep the restaurant going. “We would give them our recipes and help them out, but I don’t know if that’ll happen,” she said.
Steve is mainly just interested in letting go of the place. Whether the buyer keeps the restaurant, remodels the place or tears the structure down and builds anew, that’s fine with him. “I just want somebody to buy it,” he said.
The couple’s three adult kids, meantime, aren’t interested in carrying on the tradition. They say they’ve also had their fill of working and helping out at Gray Cliff, assisting their parents as the years have gone by. “They say they’ve already worked their 40 years,” Jody said.
Unless someone maintains the restaurant, the only remaining eatery in the Ogden Canyon will be the Hermitage Grill at the Alaskan Inn bed and breakfast. The Oaks, another longtime Ogden Canyon eatery, is closed, according to Steve, while Timbermine Steakhouse and The Greenery restaurant at Rainbow Gardens sit more at the canyon’s mouth.
According to the history of the Gray Cliff Lodge structure provided by the Sniggses, the building was built in 1912 as a summer home. It morphed into a boarding house and, by 1945, a restaurant under the Gray Cliff Lodge name. Steve’s parents bought the restaurant in 1965 and he and wife Jody in turn bought it from them in 1979.
“I’ve been there ever since,” said Steve, who also worked at the restaurant while in high school, helping out his parents.
He’s not sure what’s kept him there for so many years, or at least he’s not saying. “I don’t know. It’s one of those things sometimes you get in,” he said.
Jody said it’s been about making ends meet, finding your niche in life. “It’s what we do,” she said.
Whatever the case, they say they have their loyal customers who appreciate the food and ambiance of the place.
The popular items at Gray Cliff, according to Steve, include the prime rib, fresh mountain trout and cinnamon rolls that he prepares fresh each day of operation. On Wednesday, he and Jody were there, preparing the rolls at a breakneck pace — twisting the dough, dipping the pieces in butter then rolling them in a cinnamon-and-sugar mix and placing them in pans.
It’s been much busier than normal since news went public that the restaurant would be closing. The locale is actually booked through the end of the month. “Right now I wouldn’t miss it because it’s working the daylights out of me,” Steve said.
Still, he seems to recognize that his tune might change when his 44 years of running the place come to an end. “We’ll see what happens when I’m gone a while,” he said.