Employee Spotlight: Eric Tiffany, Manager Ski Hill Grill and the T-Bar
When Eric Tiffany rolled into Breckenridge 10 years ago just before New Year’s eve, he had three priorities: find a job to let him ski 100 days that season, ski 100 days that season, and have some money left over for beer. These days, Tiffany still wants to pack in as many ski days as possible, but he’s more worried about whether you—not him—have beer.
As general manager of Ski Hill Grill and the T-Bar, Tiffany is charged with making sure operations run smoothly at the buzzing hub that sits at the top of the Breck Connect gondola on the base of Peak 8 in Breckenridge. The bar and restaurant are adjacent to One Ski Hill Place, a RockResort.
“I can’t tell you exact numbers, but this is far and away the busiest restaurant on the mountain in Breckenridge,” says Tiffany, who was at the helm three years ago when One Ski Hill Place opened. His job was to oversee the Ski Hill Grill, with its 200-seat patio, outside BBQ, and extensive food court, as well as the T-Bar, one of the most popular après sites in Breck (thanks, in part, to its stumbling distance from the gondola and the copious amounts of beer on tap and specialty wines and cocktails).
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” says Tiffany, noting that some growing pains resulted in higher than anticipated turnover. Despite the challenges, he treasures the experience and credits the opportunity as one of the most valuable of his career.
“Managing an operation of this size requires you to be super organized because you don’t have time to waste,” says Tiffany. “You have to decide what is important, make a decision, and run with it.”
You also need a solid team with a shared work ethic, and Tiffany says he looks to hire employees who embody the mountain town ethos of “work hard/play hard.”
“When we’re busy, we are super busy,” says Tiffany. “Christmas at Breckenridge doesn’t look like Christmas anywhere else.”
When Tiffany left his upstate New York home a decade ago, he was just looking for the next big adventure. A lifelong skier and soccer player, he landed in Breckenridge at the invitation of a friend who was already here. Tiffany could sleep on the kitchen floor of his buddy’s one-bedroom condo for cheap—so long as he deflated and stashed his air mattress out of the way every morning.
To Tiffany, that sounded like heaven.
“All I wanted was to ski and to be outside,” he said. “I had a second job in town bussing tables. I didn’t have any sense of Vail Resorts, the corporation, or how the company was growing the operations in Breckenridge. Back then, it was all about what I needed in the moment. Do I have enough money for rent? For beer? For food?”
In the ensuing decade, Tiffany’s worked every position in food and beverage at Breckenridge. He’s also developed an understanding of the company strategy and outlook, and he appreciates guest services.
“I’m 10 years older and done a little bit of growing up,” says Tiffany. “My job is as interesting to me as the idea of, ‘can I get 100 ski days this year?’ The actual number of ski days is less of a priority, but the lifestyle is still paramount. I love living in the mountains.”
He’s obviously not alone. Most visitors to Breckenridge leave their ski vacation wondering how they could swing a major life change and spend an entire season—heck, entire years—instead of five days in Breckenridge. There’s something about the free spirit, the scenery, the fresh air and the lack of oxygen that compels people to contemplate leaving everything familiar and settling at 9,600 feet.
Tiffany knows. That’s the same compulsion that brought him to the Rockies to begin with. And that is what will keep him in the high country. Tiffany credits his career at Vail for allowing him to find meaningful work without having to leave the home he’s chosen.
“I never expected I’d be here 10 years later, but that’s only because I couldn’t see past the tip of my skis when I moved here,” he says. “Now I can genuinely say I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. This is a really exciting time up here in Breckenridge.”
– Rachel Walker