Restaurant Update: Juniper Valley Ranch opens for 71st season

In this week’s Restaurant Report Card, known for its legendary pan-fried chicken and family-style house dishes, Juniper Valley Ranch opens its 71st season Friday night.

It’s a family fried chicken tradition just south of Colorado Springs at 16350 S. Highway 115.

Family employee Preston Dickey said: “It’s all about the cast iron skillet and we use very old, large cast iron skillets which are probably older than me.”

Juniper Valley Ranch has been in the making for five generations.

Dickey’s sister Olivia Patterson, who also works at the restaurant, said: “My grandparents started it in 1951 and my dad has had it for almost 40 years.”

Today, 71 years later, they still prepare the same simple menu. Patterson works at the front of the house, Dickey makes the pies, and their father does the cooking.

“A lot of people say it’s like eating at your grandma’s house, and I think that’s really all-encompassing,” Patterson said.

Reservations are required and everything is served with the family.

Patterson said: “I love watching people who’ve never been here before, for the first time say to themselves ‘can you pass me the cookies? “. It’s a bit uncomfortable at first but it still surprises me because so many families no longer sit at the table together and share the same meal.

“You have to share here. You have to pass the bowl and kind of break bread with the people you’re with,” Dickey said.

It’s a family that feeds families.

Dickey said: “People come back every year and we’ve become such an important part of people’s family and they’ve become part of our family as well.”

And they do it in exactly the same dining room as the generations before them.

“Even some of the tools that I use, I know my grandmother used them and you know that’s really special,” Dickey said.

Juniper Valley Ranch honors their past, while perpetuating it in the present.

Patterson said: “I think it’s just heat, and I think when people are here they feel that too.”

Juniper Valley Ranch opens for the 71st season on Friday, April 1 at 5:00 p.m.

Call 719-576-0741 to reserve your table.

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