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Peter BonifacePeter Boniface is the Owner and Co-founder of Yampa Sandwich Company. He grew up in Sandwich, Massachusetts, where he learned how to cook and blend flavors from his mother. He started in the restaurant business in 1983 and moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado in 1991 with the intention of being a ski bum. Seeing the need for a local quality delicatessen, Peter and David Pepin opened the first Yampa Sandwich Company in 1999.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Peter Boniface discusses some of Yampa Sandwich Company’s newest menu items and how the ideas are conceived
  • How learning to cook from his mother influenced Peter
  • Peter recalls his entry into the restaurant industry and his first job preparing food
  • Why Peter moved from the northeast to Colorado
  • What was the original name and purpose of the Yampa Sandwich Company?
  • How has the restaurant evolved and expanded over time?
  • The secret to the Yampa Sandwich Company’s success

In this episode…

While customers frequent their favorite restaurants for the food and atmosphere, they are usually unaware of how the brand evolved to its current state. Many restaurants have unique origin stories, starting out as mere fractions of what they are now.

With six Colorado locations and one in Wyoming — Yampa Sandwich Company is one brand with a tremendous origin story. According to Peter Boniface, one of the restaurant’s founders, the brand’s original purpose was to provide sandwiches for rafting guides in Steamboat, Colorado while operating under the name Backcountry Provisions. There was such a demand and appreciation for the food and service that they ended up opening a sandwich shop and then expanding to Jackson, WY, and Fort Collins, CO. The store in Fort Collins struggled, Peter says, because customers primarily thought the brand rented out snowshoes. As a result, the restaurant’s name changed to Yampa Sandwich Company.

On this episode of the Top Business Leaders Show, Peter Boniface, Owner and Founder of Yampa Sandwich Company, joins Rise25’s Chad Franzen to discuss the fascinating evolution of Yampa Sandwich Company. He talks about why he opened a restaurant after moving to Colorado to be a ski bum, the original purpose for the brand and why its name changed, and why customers keep coming back to Yampa Sandwich Company.

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:04

Welcome to the Top Business Leaders Show powered by Rise25 Media. We feature top founders, executives and business leaders from all over the world.

Chad Franzen  0:04

Chad Franzen here, co-host for the show where we feature top restaurateurs, investors and business leaders. This is part of our SpotOn series. SpotOn has the best in class payment platform for retail and they have a flagship solution called spot on restaurant, where they combined marketing software and payments all in one. They’ve served everyone from larger chains like Dairy Queen and Subway to small mom and pop restaurants. To learn more, go to spot This episode is brought to you by Rise25. We help b2b business to get businesses to get ROI clients referrals and strategic partnerships through done for you podcasts. If you have a business, a b2b business and want to build great relationships with clients referral partners and thought leaders in your space. There’s no better way to do it than through podcasts and content marketing. To learn more, go to or email us at Peter Boniface is originally from Sandwich, Massachusetts, where he began learning how to cook and blend flavors from his mother. He started cooking professionally and working in the restaurant business in 1983. Moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado in 1991, where he worked in various roles in the restaurant and hospitality industry. He saw a need for a quality delicatessen in the Steamboat Springs market and in 1999, with David Pepin, he opened the first Yampa Sandwich Company, and he joins me today. Hey, Peter, thanks for joining me. How are you?

Peter Boniface  1:25

I’m doing great. Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Chad Franzen  1:27

So we were just talking here, I told you that I had your tuna albacore sandwich from the Yampa Sandwich Company for lunch today. And it was quite good. So I highly recommend it. I’m actually thinking about sneaking over there tomorrow. Perfect.

Peter Boniface  1:44

Hey, new offerings, you’d have to try some new LTO is it just launched this past week?

Chad Franzen  1:49

So what do you recommend?

Peter Boniface  1:52

Um, well, we have a short rib, Bahn Mi really delicious with some Asian flavors. And we’re doing a pork carnitas torta as well. So really, warming sandwiches for this fall season?

Chad Franzen  2:08

Great. So, you know, as long as you bring that up, how do you — those are fairly unique sandwiches. How do you kind of come up with that idea? You know, you see the kind of those ingredients like carne dozen tacos and things like that. But how do you come up with those ideas?

Peter Boniface  2:21

Oh, well I do a lot of research, I eat a lot of sandwiches. So I go, and I try and eat all our competitors sandwiches all around, and not just competitors. But, you know, I’ll travel to another metro area besides Denver, you know, go to Seattle, Boston, New York, wherever it’s San Francisco, and have an idea of what’s good. And I’ll sample what’s out there. And then and then you know, the wheels get turning. So it always starts casting a really wide net, and having a number of different ideas. And then and then sort of narrowing it down and narrowing it down as far as where I want to go with it. And it takes quite some time to get to the end point and where I want it to be. So yeah, but it’s a fun process. And that’s my favorite part of the job.

Chad Franzen  3:12

So as I mentioned in when I introduced you there you experienced learning to cook from your mother, how did that kind of influence you?

Peter Boniface  3:24

Oh, it influenced me huge. And without me even realizing it, you know, I had no idea growing up what kind of impact it was going to have on me. But my mother is Italian and so so as my father so growing up in an Italian household, we always we we would sandwich Massachusetts is on Cape Cod and and back at that period of time it was it was very country like which it’s not today, but we would do all the berry picking and making jams and oystering and go fishing and catch you know tons of fish and then my mother would have me clean all the fish and wrap them and pack the freezer for the winter with the fish. So I learned how to you know shark shellfish breakdown, breakdown, fish things, things like that. And then when I got a job as a dishwasher, at a restaurant when I was old enough to work, they realized that I had some kitchen skills and so I got out of the dish pit right away. And all my buddies were stuck there.

Chad Franzen  4:36

So what did you end up doing? When they realized that?

Peter Boniface  4:39

Oh, making sheet pans of bacon wrapped scallops and you know, shucking shellfish? Oysters and doing a lot of prep work for the restaurant was doing you know, classic Yankee cooking which isn’t very interesting, but it was, you know, lots of bread crumbs, butter and lemon, and parsley. And that was basically it, whether it was you know, lobster or cod or you know, blue fish or things like that break, break down the fish, put them in the ceramic boats with with some butter and topping with the bread crumbs, and, you know, have them all prepped up, and then you just take them and drop them in the boiler or broiler and brown the bread crumbs and put it on the plate, big potato, vegetables, lemon, boom, out out the door. So pretty, pretty simple stuff. But it had an impact on me in that way. First, you know, accelerating my professional career, but also me having an understanding of what good simple cooking in flavors were as, as, as a youngster, and so I didn’t have really any desire at that point to, you know, work in the restaurant business or anything for the rest of my life. But what ended up happening was, you know, I used that platform to make money all through high school and college. And so I got to know the business really well through that. And then, you know, going to college, and I got an economics degree. And so I had an understanding of how to run a business and on I think that that’s played a big part in why I’ve been successful. Because I’ve met so many people that go into the restaurant business, they’re like, oh, you know, you’re a great cook, or whatever, you know, you should open a restaurant, but they have no idea how to run a restaurant. And so you know, I think that’s what what gave me my advantage when I when I first went out on my own is that I understood the economics of it and business models and how to make it work beyond beyond the end product putting together a good end product so

Chad Franzen  7:12

So did the fact that you grew up in a town called Sandwich have any influence in what you do today?

Peter Boniface  7:22

The area had had influence on me and what I’m doing today, but no, there wasn’t anything in my head that where I wanted to be in the sandwich business, you know, I came out to Steamboat Springs, to just to be a ski bum and I was like, oh, yeah, you know, I’m gonna go out to Steamboat and ski for a year. And after a year here, then that turned into two. And then, you know, I was working in the restaurant business here. And the places that I worked for, I didn’t have a tremendous amount of respect for the people that I worked for, at the business level. And I just, I saw what they were doing. And I had worked at much higher caliber, better restaurants back in Boston, and on Cape Cod, and I knew that I could run a better restaurant than they were doing at that point in time. And so I kind of was serving the market after my second season here in Steamboat, I just decided, hey, you know, this is a really cool lifestyle and a beautiful place out here. And if I can, if I can give it a go and support a different kind of life for myself, then then I should do that. And I know that I can be competitive here in this in this landscape of restaurants in Steamboat and so I started to you know, break brainstorm and journal and write down ideas that I had had and I decided that nobody knew how to make a good sandwich in Steamboat and and furthermore, at that point in time in Colorado back in the early 90s, I was like there really wasn’t a good salami that I could find in Colorado is like nobody has a good salami here. I was like I need to bring a great salami to Colorado and do that. And so, my business partner that I started, you have a sandwich company with and back then we started it as Backcountry Provisions was what we named it, we designed it to make all of our sandwiches for the rafting guides and the fishing guides and, and so on. And still to this day, we handle pretty much every major guide in town packing their lunches for them to go. So that was the concept of the business. Hey, you know all these people that are going up on the ski mountain and going on a hike and whatnot. Wouldn’t it be great if they had a place that they could go and grab a great sandwich to take out into the backcountry with them And so that’s how it all started. And we were successful right off the bat, you know, it really, it really took off. And I think it took off because of, first off the quality of the product and bringing something into the market that was not currently here. And that there was a, you know, a demand for. And so, I think that was, that was the first thing that people were like, Hey, this is really good food that these guys are putting together. And then second, you know, at that point in time, in Steamboat, there was a mud season or shoulder seasons, and there still is, to this day, but the town has grown so much that, you know, at that point in time, everything would shut down restaurants would just close their doors, and people would leave town for the shoulder season months. And, you know, my business partner and I, we didn’t — first off, didn’t have the money to keep the business going. If we were going to shut it down. We had to, we had to continue to try and, you know, grow the business since we were a new business. So we decided to stay open during the shoulder season, and we really gained a lot of market share, then and that really is what catapulted us to sustainability within our first our first year of business. So yeah, pretty much, you know, try trying to do the best job we could and showing up every day is what?

Chad Franzen  11:28

Yeah, well, that’s, that’s really, that’s really a great story. Thanks. Thanks for sharing that I was gonna ask you kind of how, how the idea came about. So you said you were kind of working in the restaurant industry. You know, you had ideas for starting your own restaurant, you know, you could probably do a better job. What were some other finalists in terms of kind of like niche, you opened the delicatessen more there. But there’s some other ones that you were considering.

Peter Boniface  11:53

Um, well. Italian food is my specialty. I mean, I think I make better pasta than anyone else out there and better pasta and I do sandwiches. But it came down to what can we do that we can afford to open up and open up a large scale dining restaurant was something that was going to be a challenge with our, our economic physician at that point in time. And as well, we were we were tending bar as as our jobs, which is great, you know, ski all day goto the bar at night. But you know, I at that point in time after close to a decade of flooring drinks, you know, both through through college and then after college and into my, my stint here in Steamboat, I was all done with alcohol, I didn’t want to be around people that were partying and that sort of late nights and whatnot. I just was like, that’s not going to be good for me going forward. And, you know, as a family man, it’s certainly been much better for me to not have a restaurant that’s open ‘til late at night. So that was part of the design as well, hey, it’s something that we can operate during the day, and then shut down and not have to not have to operate during dinner.

Chad Franzen  13:23

Yeah, yeah, I could see that. So I have two questions about kind of evolution first. You know, as a Colorado resident, I’m well aware that Steamboat Springs is a very popular place. How has the restaurant market evolved up there during the last 24 years?

Peter Boniface  13:40

Oh, it’s really sophisticated quite a bit. You know, at the time in the early 90s, I’d say the best restaurants were just your classic steak houses here. There wasn’t a whole lot of variety in fine cuisine, and now there’s some very good chefs and very good restaurants in town now. So the landscape has changed quite a bit and of course, you know, the whole craft beer movement that’s gone on in Colorado, has we there’s some very good brewers up here now as well that you know, have the everything from from the brewery with a tap room to full scale restaurant that that brews beer and has pizza ovens and whatnot. And yeah, so there’s some people that do some do some great work here. Yeah, so it’s certainly evolved quite a bit. And I mean, I’m sure I don’t know. Are you a skier? Do you ski at all? Yeah, a little bit. Yeah, well, so when you go into a ski mountain, typically, you know back then you’d go in to get something to eat and it was a bowl of chili or is French fry me that was all there really was to offer and now skier is a full full on Five star restaurants on five star dining on mountain nowadays.