Having moved to Colorado Springs in 1932, “Papa Joe” Reich quickly fell in love with the quaint community of 50,000 residents. Facing the prospect of a cross-country move with his family for his job in 1945, Papa Joe strode into the Swiss Chalet restaurant in downtown Colorado Springs, spoke briefly with the owner, shook hands and walked out a restaurateur. He left his job with Armour and began a career that would allow him to raise his family in the city he loved, volunteer his time as a civic leader, and feed the masses at his restaurant – all with passion, dedication, and a smile.
His wife, Kathleen Conway Reich, was the brainchild behind the original Swiss Chalet House Salad dressing. It quickly became a community favorite and customers frequently requested bottles to take home. Papa Joe began bottling this dressing in the basement of his restaurant and by 1959, he had sold his 1 millionth bottle of dressing. He opened a 2nd, “cafeteria-style” restaurant, named The Little Chalet on the lower level of the First National Bank Building in 1962. He moved his bottling operation to that location, rebranding the dressing, “Little Chalet”, after its new home.
In 1969, he sold the original Swiss Chalet Restaurant to focus on the Little Chalet Salad Dressing production and distribution, and moved the bottling operation to a larger facility on Sierra Madre, still in Colorado Springs. His children and grandchildren were active participants in the salad-dressing production and all have fond memories of their time spent with “Papa Joe” in his plant.
Papa Joe passed along his wife’s recipe and his business to his youngest son, Fred Reich, in 1984. Fred moved production to Denver, Colorado and continued to expand the dressing’s market presence throughout the country. In 1996, Fred made the decision to close the production facility in Denver and relocate to Poland, Indiana, to pursue a quieter life in the country. He is alive and well and raising alpacas in the Midwest.
During a trip back west to complete several items on his bucket list (including skydiving and summiting the 4 Collegiate Peaks in one day – all at age 71!), Fred made a stopover in Colorado Springs to visit his older brother, Joseph A. Reich, Jr. “Big Joe” and his youngest son, Dan, met Fred at The Golden Bee at the historic Broadmoor Hotel and began reminiscing about the days of Little Chalet Dressing production in Colorado Springs. Dan asked his uncle for the dressing recipe, and Fred obliged. Dan began experimenting with the recipe at home during the summer of 2012 and by that winter, was ready to begin commercial production of Papa Joe’s Little Chalet Dressing. On January 17, 2013, in honor of his son, Joseph Adam Reich, III’s (Trey) 3rd birthday, the first batch of Papa Joe’s Little Chalet was produced and bottled. Now in its 3rd Generation of production, Papa Joe’s Little Chalet is still made using the original recipe – Gluten-Free, All-Natural, and made from Non-GMO ingredients for over 68 years. We are still committed to Papa Joe’s lasting legacy and are thrilled to be able to offer you this iconic dressing once again. We invite you to create new dishes and memories around your table with Papa Joe’s Little Chalet. Happy eating!”