FREMONT COUNTY, Colo - Nearly seven decades of family tradition are about to enter a final chapter. Merlinos' Belvedere in Canon City is closing at the end of the month. Owners, Michael Merlino and his wife Cathie had to deal with escalating equipment maintenance costs and the fallout from the Royal Gorge fire and the lack of tourism.
Michael Merlino says it's an emotional moment to say goodbye to a business that he and his family have owned for nearly 70 years, "The void is going to be horrendous. I'm sure there will be tears. I'm glad I have a great wife. She'll be able to grab a hold of me and we can cry together and fill that void."
Merlino says he is now concerned about other business owners in Fremont County since it's going to take until August of next year to full reopen the Royal Gorge for tourism, "I'm out of it now. It doesn't matter to me, but they tell us all these service businesses in Fremont County won't have the Royal Gorge for tourism. I think that's a travesty."
Michael Merlino says he doesn't know what's next for his family but he is sure of this, "It's the beginning of something that God will decide for us. I truly believe he has a plan."