THE ONLY THING more fun than skiing itself might be the apres ski meal, which is certainly the case for Readers’ Choice winners Red Parka Steakhouse & Pub in Glen and Forbes Tavern in Grantham.

“We are a fun, family-friendly pub, known for its ski atmosphere, great service and fun menu,” said Terry O’Brien, owner of Red Parka Steakhouse & Pub. “We are within 10 to 20 minutes of four ski areas.”

Also located within close proximity to several ski areas, Forbes Tavern is owned by Audrey and Eric Calhau, both of whom expressed surprise at the Readers’ Choice award.

“We were so surprised and excited,” said AudreyCalhau . “As everyone knows, this year has been extremely challenging for restaurants in general, never mind it being our opening year.”

Citing a year full of struggles, she said they are “thankful for all the support.”

“Thank you so much to everyone who voted for us,” she said.

O’Brien expressed similar appreciation for the accolade, which follows other awards.

“We have been written up in Ski Magazine, Powder Magazine and others for our ski vibe of which we are very proud,” she noted. “We are very grateful for all of our guests that voted for us. They are why we are still here after so many years.”

It’s not business as usual this winter, and both owners mentioned challenges brought about by the pandemic.

“This winter has been challenging,” said Audrey. “Inside dining has been scarce, and we have been creative on offering as many different things as we can to increase the amount of business.”

Takeout, however, has proven instrumental for Forbes Tavern.

“(It is) what we have been surviving off of,” added Calhau, who said they have also introduced fire pits and heaters on their deck for outside dining this winter.

At Red Parka Steakhouse & Pub, O’Brien said the pandemic has forced some changes.

“We are not allowed to have bands playing, so we have turned the stage and dance floor into dining areas,” she explained. “We have also enclosed our patio area for more seating. We are still doing our skier raffle on Wednesdays, although we can’t give away lift tickets like past years.”

Looking to the future, O’Brien said she is eager to open their patio dining as early as possible with heaters outside.

“Looking forward to having bands again, including our Blues Sundays,” she added.

Calhau said they also anticipate life post-pandemic.

“We have not been able to host any events or parties yet because of the pandemic, so that is probably the biggest thing on our horizon,” she said. “We hope that we will be able to find staff to start really pushing forward once the pandemic is over.”