Steakhouse decor finds new homes
About 115 bidders vie for tabletops, lanterns, tools, other memorabilia as restaurant closes.
By Johanna Love, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
November 7, 2012
Shelley Simonton has already hung the sign she scored for $10 at an auction of Teton Steakhouse’s decor.
“There are many ways to cut down on red meat,” the sign with the restaurant logo says. “We recommend a nice, sharp knife.”
The sign’s new home is in the garage of Simonton’s log cabin, right above her freezer full of elk, antelope and beef.
Antique dealers, homeowners, pickers and actors were among the 115 or so bidders Thursday at an auction of the restaurant’s elaborate Western decorations. After 27 years in business, the steakhouse closed its doors Oct. 28. A new restaurant will open in its place, said Graeme Swain, one of the partners in the new endeavor.
Jackson Community Theater representative Kathleen Godines picked up cowboy hats, a lantern and a washtub she thought might make good props for future productions.
Tammy Coy, owner of Estate Collectables antique store, bought knickknacks, copper pots and a large Buffalo Bill sign.
Vintage enthusiast and west bank resident Denny Allen bought an intricately carved cane.
“I’m looking for all kinds of memorabilia,” said Barry Barnes, Jackson resident and owner of Apparel, Home and Art. The auction was “sad, but it’s cool at the same time.”
Branding irons, a miner’s lamp, stirrups and bayonets were auctioned, one by one and in bunches.
Blue Mule Auctions owner Kurt Coates talked up bids on ornamentation that had hung in the downtown eatery for decades.
“You can toot your own horn,” Coates said, holding up an old, dusty, tarnished bugle.
Speaking about the dozens of cowboy hats, Coates said that “they’re good decorators — they’ve been in here decorating a long time.”
Holding up two tattered dreamcatchers, Coates said, “If you haven’t caught your dream yet, here’s your chance.” With no bidders even at $10, Coates threw in a milk can to sweeten the deal, selling the combo for $20.
Humor is a big part of a good auction, Coates said afterward.
“We figure if they’re there and smiling, they’re gonna be spending money,” he said.
The event drew not only Jackson residents who wanted keepsakes or resale profits, but a cadre of people who attend Coates’ auctions around the region.
“There’s not much here we’re in the market for,” Susan Barnes, of Idaho Falls, said. “We just like to follow Blue Mule.”
Missing Pieces antique shop owner Terry Cripe, of Dillon, Mont., was another Blue Mule fan. She walked away with wooden skis, a tractor seat stool, rusty steel animal traps, a stuffed armadillo and other “fun stuff you use for decor.”
Dozens of wooden tabletops embellished with ranch brand symbols sold for $15 to $30. Some came with multicolored wads of gum still stuck under the edges.
The most expensive item was the largest wooden black bear that clung to the sign out front, on the corner of Cache and Pearl. A couple from Naples, Fla., who recently bought a home here snagged it for $775.
“We’re gonna stick him on a tree outside our window,” said the woman, who declined to give her name.
For Simonton, the Teton Steakhouse sign she bought will remind her not only of the place she where she regularly ate from the salad bar, but of owners Jan and Ann Bates, who gave work to those who needed it and a meal to the community each Thanksgiving.
“They were remarkable with the things they did,” Simonton said. “That’s what I wanted a piece of, the great feeling about their contributions to the community.”