The Mountain Road here in Stowe is known for its après ski establishments! A skiing buddy of mine, the late John Fox, had been on the ski patrol at Glen Ellen before joining the Mount Mansfield Ski Patrol. He always said his wife couldn’t understand why it took him longer to get back to his home in South Burlington from Stowe than it had from Glen Ellen!

But other ski areas have memorable après ski spots as well. So where was the Salty Dog? That would be in Jeffersonville just off the Smuggs’ mountain road. Norma Stancliffe was quick to identify Smuggs as the ski area near the Salty Dog. She says when she quit her state job in 1974, she took a job as waitress at the Salty Dog. Longtime Smuggs’ ski instructor Glen Findholt also had the answer and says, “I logged quite a few hours over quite a few years” at the Salty Dog!

I also heard from Nancy Rock who remembers the Salty Dog Thursday Happy Hours, “25 cent drafts going up 5 cents per half hour until they reached 50 cents per draft!” And she also commented on that big April snowstorm when she was in college, “Smuggs stayed open until May – was tough to take final exams that year! choice between taking your final or skiing!!”

Glen also pointed out that the Salty Dog was built and operated by Wayne Roberts. In the late 1960s Wayne and his wife moved to Vermont and established the Red Fox Ski Dorm in Jeffersonville then added the Salty Dog in the 1970s. Roberts also developed another Smuggs après ski spot, the Brewster River Yacht Club. That establishment has continued although the name seems to evolve as it has changed ownership, The Brewski or the Brewster River Pub & Brewery. My understanding is that it’s currently being renovated again. Wayne Roberts passed away last fall at the age of 79.

Going back to when Smuggs was called Madonna, the après ski options were more limited. We used to stop at the Haus and Heim Ski Lodge which really wasn’t a bar. The Lodge was run by an older couple Adolph “Al” Soucek and his wife Vera. They left their native Czechoslovakia after WWII and eventually immigrated to Burlington, Vermont. There they established a restaurant and catering business called The Continental. In the late 1960s they added the Haus and Heim. Al and Vera always seemed a little overwhelmed by the influx of beer drinking skiers that filled the small bar space on weekends. But they were always good sports as we drank and watched The Killy Challenge on the TV!

In the 1970s the après options expanded. As mentioned earlier, the Salty Dog came on the scene. Marvin Crozier and Karen Cutler renovated an old barn and opened a bar called Mateymuckers. They featured entertainment including John Cassel and Downpour. In researching this column, I found out that Mateymucker is an Australian term for “close friends.” I never knew that when I was drinking there. But the name and I assume the ownership changed in 1973 to Jefferson City. I have no information on that ownership.

In 1974 the Haus and Heim came under new management and the name changed to L’Auberge Chez Moustache with Horst Thomke as the chef, manager, and entertainment!  Thomke was an accomplished pianist and entertainer. A fire in August of 1975 totally destroyed the building, but they were able to save Thomke’s piano.

Horst Thomke and the Chez Moustache

Thomke would take over the building that had been Mateymuckers or Jefferson City and start the Chez Moustache restaurant and bar. This became a “go to” spot on the Smuggs mountain road. Norma Stancliffe got recruited by Thomke to be a bartender at the Moustache. She wasn’t sure she was qualified, but with the help of the bartenders “bible” and some coaching, she took the job. She must have done well because she would make the move over to Stowe bartending at Whiskers, Three Green Doors, and the Shed! Eventually she ran her own bar called Ladies Invited.

Horst Thomke died in 1981 at the age of 48. His wife Barbara Thomke says, “I managed to keep it aloft myself (with good staff, of course) for another year after Horst’s passing and then sold it.”  A special thank you goes to Barbara for her help with this column. If you ever ski Smuggs you can find a Thomke ski trail near the top of Sterling in memory of Horst.

There’s one more watering hole on the Smugg’s side I feel I should mention. That would be The Bucket in the old Smugglers Notch Inn. I never actually used it as an après ski stop, however it does hold a place in my heart. In 1976-77 I was living in Smugglers Village and commuting to Essex Junction. On snowy nights coming back from working late, getting up the hill from Jeffersonville on 108 could be a challenge, particularly if it hadn’t been plowed or sanded. The Bucket became a convenient waiting place until the road was plowed.  Quite often there would be quite a few of us waiting and yes, drinking, until someone announced that the state plow had just headed up the hill!