Scott Kauf never imagined himself as a bar owner. The world-champion mogul skier was living in Vail in the ‘90s and traveling around the West when he fell in love with the down-home atmosphere and natural beauty of Alta, Wyoming.
Fast forward to today, and you’ll still find Scott shredding Targhee with his two kids before enjoying a well- deserved drink at the Tetonia Club, a historic building that Scott painstakingly revitalized.
Over the past century, the Tetonia Club has been many things: a pool hall, a mercantile, an abandoned building, and many iterations of the town watering hole. Twenty years ago, when Scott was still relatively new to Teton Valley, he rode his bicycle by the unassuming building on Tetonia’s main street and spotted a “for sale by owner” sign.
“I stood on my toes to peek into the high windows, it was covered in dust and there was stuff all over the place,” Scott says. Beneath all of that dust there were two relics that piqued his curiosity: the original neon Tetonia Club sign and a South American gambling game. Scott told the then-owner Chris Palcic, “Leave those and we’ve got a deal.”
Over the next two decades, Scott lovingly restored the building nail by rusty nail. At times, he lived in the building with his kids, installing an indoor basketball hoop and a trampoline, and at other times, he transformed it into a Halloween haunted house or rented it out to local families.
When Scott finally decided to reopen the Tetonia Club as a bar three years ago, he dug out the old neon sign and hired Vern Armstrong, the son of previous owner Orville Armstrong, to do the electrical work. As Scott and Vern admired their handiwork, Vern realized something was missing and reappeared with the part of the original sign that read “bar” — it had been in his dad’s garage for years.
Scott has been rediscovering pieces of the Tetonia Club’s legacy ever since. “I just take care of the place and try to maintain the history,” he says. “When we first opened, so many people came in who hadn’t been inside the building in 25 years and started telling stories. It’s cool when people who have memories of the Tetonia Club come inside and see how far it’s come.”