Celebrating 18 years, Altitudes Bar & Grill continues the tradition of comfort food, cold beer and live music

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, August 2020

Written by Gail G. Collins

s time pushes us forward, there is something especially comforting about the familiar past. Our legacy lies there, inviting us to revel in the good ol’ days when the clock ticked slower and friends lingered.

Flagstaff’s downtown was built upon its railroad, which still boasts tremendous activity, while iconic Route 66 wends a parallel journey to the tracks. Amid this history, Paul Joerger and Lynda Fleischer planted a ski pole to found Altitudes Bar & Grill.

After hanging out for years at a favorite bar and grill, the couple wanted to replicate the atmosphere.

“We had in our minds a place to meet friends and relax,” Fleischer said. “Our priority was comfort food made the best way possible.”

After a couple years of planning, the opportunity to locate in the notable Anderson Building arose. Originally housing the Warehouse Company, the structure was that of Chester Anderson, who brought Flagstaff’s south side to life via trade. Fleischer and Joerger continue that tradition at Altitudes Bar & Grill, celebrating 18 years of juicy burgers, cold beer and live music this summer.

The owners met at Arizona Snowbowl. Fleischer managed the ski team for 14 years, and Joerger acted as food and beverage director for the resort. They married on the mountain, so Altitudes’ ambience embraces the San Francisco Peaks.

“Everyone brings us their skis and other kinds of things,” Fleischer said, pointing at a row of skis, laid side by side like paneling along the lower east wall inside the restaurant. Some are even signed. Above, framed art, photographs and antique equipment lend honest kitsch to their past. Ski team members donated gear as technology advanced, while trophies and plaques boast of good seasons. Guests sit at the bar and point to family names. A case of ski passes, sporting the couples’ fresh faces in their snowy heydays, offers perspective.

Intrinsic to Snowbowl’s ski resort history were Gertrude “Jerry” Nunn, a U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame member, and husband Jimmie, who founded the Arizona Ski Museum. A striking photo of Jerry at 18 years old marks what Fleischer affectionately calls the Nunn’s shrine. Fleischer’s mentor, who was like a second grandmother to her daughter, passed away a few years ago, and Jimmie died in March. Jimmie donated vintage boots, wooden skis, leather bindings and other period kit for display in the eatery.

Burgers at Altitudes are legend, but the fish fry is the top seller and specially priced every Friday. The walleye, a local fish that can be caught in Lake Mary, is beer battered and crumbed in panko for a light bite. Served with fries, lemon, tartar sauce and coleslaw for lunch, the dinner meal also includes a salad.

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