Our inspired team of chefs, bartenders, kitchen staff and servers work to make your dining experience one to write home about.
RYAN LOWE GENERAL MANAGER / CHEF
As Owner and Executive Chef of the Ore House, Ryan carefully balances his time working in the dining room and kitchen, yet always seems to find himself gravitating towards the kitchen. Having learned to cook from scratch from his mother and grandmother, Ryan feels fortunate to have deep-rooted ideals concerning the food he prepares. Preferring clean, fresh ingredients, he eagerly chooses to work with local, organic ranches and farms as much as possible. Ryan feels very fortunate to share his passion for food, hospitality, and small business with his dedicated staff and loyal customers.
Despite being one of the youngest chefs in Durango, Ryan can boast of quite a few accomplishments. He won the Iron Horse Chef competition in 2009, mentors students on the Durango High School Culinary Team, and graciously donates his time as a guest chef for countless events and fundraisers throughout the community.
After working for three years as the Executive Chef of the Ore House, he was given the opportunity in 2011 to become the General Manager. Ryan decided to rejuvenate the 38-year-old restaurant by redefining the focus of the restaurant, which required facilitating a full remodel of the kitchen and a small renovation of the dining room. Ryan now considers the Ore House to be a boutique, upscale steakhouse focused around seasonal and local ingredients. Ryan puts great emphasis on making sure that the Ore House’s food and beverages are created by a team that is passionate about sourcing fresh, wild, seasonal, regional, and responsibly harvested ingredients.
In 2014, Ryan became a 50% partner in the restaurant with Ore House owner Beatle Abshagen, who opened the restaurant in 1972.
On the rare occasion that Ryan is not at the restaurant, he enjoys traveling the world with his wife. Their trips are typically focused around the best food and beverages that the destination has to offer. Ryan prefers to spend any additional free time with family and friends in the Durango outdoors. Of course, no matter the activity, food remains a major component in his life.
Born and raised in Durango, Ryan feels lucky to call this town his home.
CHRISSY MURRAH GENERAL MANAGER / CHEF
The Dining Room Manager, Chrissy Murrah, is responsible for hiring, scheduling, and the various bits and pieces of helping the restaurant run smoothly. “The experience starts with the staff,” said Chrissy. “The team is important here. We’re not hiring for positions or hours, we’re hiring people.”
Chrissy was born and raised in Durango and has worked in the restaurant industry for the past 15 years. Her experience includes five years at Momma’s Boy and nine years at Carver Brewing Company. Now, living on a farm with her boyfriend, Kevin Banash, and continuing her food education at the Ore House, Chrissy has learned just how much goes into cultivating the food that becomes dinner. “Learning the bits and pieces have been interesting,” said Chrissy. “Ryan gets these incredible products and stands behind them. It’s cool to work for someone like that with a product that I can stand behind. Everything I’m serving has been well treated and happy. It’s a smart choice.”
But even before the customer receives their meal, the experience begins as soon as they walk in the door. How people approach their job and their professional relationships have an impact on how customers perceive a restaurant. “The most important part of the Ore House is that people come for a special experience,” said Chrissy. “People don’t come in because they don’t feel like cooking dinner. People are just really happy here. It’s a really special environment.”
When Chrissy isn’t creating schedules or helping customers smile, she is feeding farm animals, taking care of the farm land they rent, hiking in the mountains or floating down the river with Kevin or one of their three dogs.
CLIFF BORNHEIM CHEF / KITCHEN MANAGER
Ore House Chef and Kitchen Manager Cliff Bornheim started cooking as a child, when his mother asked him and his brother, Aaron, to prepare one meal a week. “You get tired of cooking one thing, so you start exploring,” said Cliff. Now, Aaron is chef at another local restaurant and Cliff claims 14 years in the industry. “She kind of hooked us both,” said Cliff.
His creativity, learned young in the kitchen, helped him use ingredients in a unique way when he competed in the Iron Horse Chef Competition at the Farmer’s Market, winning both rounds and the title for 2014.
His unique and creative approach was a boon to the competition, but unique and creative can also describe his journey to chef at the Ore House.
While in college, Cliff worked at the Ore House for two years before moving to Italy to study. When Cliff returned to the United States, after working with several other restaurants, he found himself back in the restaurant. Ryan was starting to remodel the kitchen and reorganize the restaurant, and Cliff jumped on board to consult and help with the transition.
A short-term position turned into a long-term one as Cliff took on a more permanent role in the kitchen. “The culture here is just really nice. Everyone works together. It’s a team effort, not the front of the house versus the back,” said Cliff. “They always treat their employees really well. It’s a good way to keep people around. I can’t imagine working for a better person than Ryan. It’s nice to work for someone you trust. If you don’t have job security, at the end of the day, it’s tough to invest.”
Cliff lives in Durango with his fiancée, Rubi, and their daughter, Verabella.
RYAN CLEVELAND BAR MANAGER
Ryan Cleveland brings a large amount of dedication, a love of fresh, local ingredients, and an interest in beer, wine and spirits to his position as Bar Manager at the Ore House. Ryan is a cicerone, or certified beer server, and he continues to learn as much as possible to help enhance the Ore House experience for those who dine at the restaurant.
Ryan grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles, and attended Fort Lewis College after being recruited for the cycling team. Over the course of a year, he worked his way up from a busser at the Ore House to bar manager. His degree in marketing and finance certainly assists in his responsibilities at the restaurant.
Ryan also creates new cocktails using local, fresh and sustainable ingredients, designs educational seminars for his staff, maintains inventory, and helps with whatever else is needed for the restaurant. “I get to use some of my background from school and apply it, but it’s still customer service and I still get to talk to people,” said Ryan.
With the restaurant constantly adapting for seasonal and availability changes in produce and other menu items, there is a lot of room for new, interesting and creative items made from the highest quality, freshest and local ingredients. “It’s really fun,” shared Ryan. “I get to experiment with a lot of things. There’s always a special drink on the menu using something we can get our hands on.”
When not in the restaurant, Ryan is busy exploring all that Durango has to offer. He still bikes, plays hockey, and has been exploring rock climbing, golfing and mountain biking. “These past few years I’ve been able to enjoy Durango for what it is,” said Ryan.