Meet Dieter Lehmann. Dieter is well known to many in our community as a dynamic entrepreneur and the ‘face’ of Steakhouse 89. He is involved in many many projects.
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Sedona?
A: As of February 1st, three years. We’re starting year four.
Q: Where did you live before Sedona?
A: Cyril Chiosa (my business partner) and I came straight from Houston via the Florida Keys. We had a little business venture in the Keys, and after two years of hurricane season, we decided to move to a safer place. My business partner’s wife has been coming to Sedona for about six or seven years. We visited Sedona and stayed – three years later, we’re still here.
Q: How long did it take you to decide on moving to Sedona?
A: We visited in November of 2017 and saw the opportunities. We’ve felt that a town like this was approximately ten years behind its time. The chance of going into business, being a part of the City of Sedona, meeting the right people was promising. In January, we looked at some prospects to invest in while having fun and making money. The ‘Barking Frog’ restaurant was available, and we purchased it on February 1st, 2018. Our grand opening for Steakhouse 89 was on the 24th of the same month, and within two days after that, we had a party for the Film Festival. Over 300 people attended, and it was a great way to meet the locals. In August of the same year, I closed half of the restaurant and remodeled the lounge, the dining rooms, and the kitchen.
Q: What drew you to Sedona?
A: It’s a beautiful town. As I said, opportunities were here. We invested in ‘Rainbow Adventure’ Jeeps and the Sedona Creative Life Center. We are now focusing on building a hospitality unit. We got approved by the city to build cabins and individual hotel rooms – as long as we leave the site looking from uptown into the mountain alone. We had to donate a little bit of land to make sure that the scenery stays the same. We call it ‘the Sedona Experience.’ We have partnered with the owners of Out of Africa and also a helicopter company. We can create a seven-day adventure that would include ziplining, horseback riding, and wild west tours. We also have Yoga and a health facility that my business partner’s wife, Sonia, runs. We have the Steakhouse, a winery, and we just got approved in Camp Verde to build a hotel there. Our goal is to become a ‘one-stop wedding destination’ in Sedona. Alcantara Winery is another outdoor adventure with 28 acres of a vineyard and an additional 80 acres, which will become a hotel.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: My business partner’s forte is housing. I’m sure he’s looking into affordable housing or workforce housing, which I think is very much needed. Most of our employees live outside the city limit.
Q: If visitors come to town, where do you take them?
A: One of my favorite places to take them is on the Red Rock Jeep tour. I enjoy the helicopter tour because, in 30 minutes, you learn pretty much everything about Sedona. And, I would take them to our winery for a wine tasting. We have 16 varieties of wines.
Q: With the Covid health situation that we’re in, do you believe that we will have the best year ever in 2021?
A: 2019 was one of our worst years because everything we do is weather-related – the jeeps, the helicopters, the wineries. 2020 started as a fantastic year, and we did ok with the restaurant because it’s 8000 square feet and includes outside dining. The last four months had been outstanding. 2021 has to be better than 2020 – there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Q: What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: I don’t hike, and I don’t bike! I enjoy what I’m doing, the challenges in opening this restaurant, getting involved in the winery, the jeeps, and the future of a beautiful hotel.
Q: Other than what you’ve already mentioned, is there anything that you would add?
A: One contribution to the city is to make it easier for businesses to operate by having affordable housing available consistently for the staff.
Q: Who are the people that introduced you to Sedona?
We first met Dave Blauert or “Mr. Sedona,” and he introduced us to Terrie Frankel and Fred Shinn. We support a lot of the causes that Terrie is involved with. Also, Patrick Schweiss does a great job in this town, with the Sedona International Film Festival and, of course, Bill Jump, co-owner of Out of Africa. And so many others!
Q: How would you like to be remembered?
A: I don’t know, ha-ha. We came to Sedona and saw the opportunities. We feel good about what we are doing.
From the interview wth Jonelle Klein