Two new cafes in Kittredge offer a place to eat early, hang late

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By Pamela Lawson

Two new cafs in Kittredge that opened within days of each other are adding new life to that community.

Cup of Joe Caf, opened by former Bucksnort Saloon owner Joe Bye, is hosting its grand opening this weekend. Bear Creek Marketplace, owned by Jim Kenney, opened July 4.

Cup of Joe

When Linda Curnes-Counter stopped at Sammy’s Tavern in Evergreen last year to celebrate a friend’s birthday, she did not expect to meet a new life partner and start a new business.

It was her first visit to the bar and grill. And while there, she met Joe Bye, who had stopped in to hear the local entertainment. Bye, who was divorced, is also a musician. For months, he had been playing his music at local venues and teaching the craft.

The pair hit it off, and two weeks ago they opened a business together in Kittredge next to Black Hat Cattle Co.

“I’ve always wanted to own a coffee shop,” said Counter, who for years worked as a medical assistant at Arapaho Peak Health Center in Evergreen.

But this Cup of Joe offers more than its name implies. The caf, which opens at 6:30 a.m. for commuters to grab a bite, certainly offers cappuccinos and related hot drinks, along with specialty coffees. But it also serves wine and beer and features live music several nights a week.

Chef Tim Williams prepares the tasty menu items, which will vary each month and feature fresh seasonal vegetables. Sandwiches on the menu range from roasted chicken salad with sun-dried cherries, pistachios and curry on a croissant to a triple-decker BLT made with Cajun bacon.

“His homemade bleu cheese is to-die-for,” Counter said. “We are one of the few places that can say everything is made from scratch.”

“I’m a foodie,” said Williams, who has worked at noted local restaurants like The Fort, Cactus Jack’s, Zoka’s and Soho, and has written menus for some of those.

He also once worked at the Bucksnort, where he met Bye, who owned the establishment with his former wife, Galina. She still runs the popular eatery in a historic cabin in Sphinx Park. The couple have three “beautiful” children, Bye said, one of whom is an officer in the corporation.

“They are keeping it going; it’s all in the family,” said Bye, who is no longer affiliated with the operation.

(Counter also has three “beautiful” children, Joe said.)

The Bucksnort was the best music gig Bye ever had, he said. But it was also difficult to play as much as he liked because of his duties there.

For a time after his departure, he “gigged around town,” and he met a lot of great musicians. Now he will share his talent with visitors to his new caf in Kittredge, and he will also bring in other musical talent.

“The Bucksnort was an authentic kind of saloon; this is a caf with great sandwiches,” he said.

And great baristas, now that he and Counter (along with the part-time help) have learned to make espresso-based coffee drinks over the last two weeks during a soft opening.

Bye and Counter plan to focus on Colorado wines and beers, though they may also offer special labels. Evenings, the menu will also feature tapas to complement the wines and desserts. In the mornings, the caf also features stuffed croissants, quiche and other breakfast items.

Years ago, Bye was a purchasing manager for the aerospace industry. But he likes the freedom of being his own boss and the freedom to try new things.

Cup of Joe Caf hours are 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. On Thursdays, the business closes at 9 p.m., and Fridays at 1 a.m. Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sundays 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Live entertainment is featured Thursday night through Sunday. The caf is in Kittredge between Comfortable Home and the Black Hat Cattle Co.

Bear Creek Marketplace

Jim Kenney may be an environmental engineer for the Environmental Protection Agency in his day job, but cooking is definitely his passion.

“When I was in second grade — I guess I was 7 years old — I remember all my friends buying books about a big red dog,” Kenney said July 6. “And I bought ‘Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls.’ The picture on the book looks like the Brady Bunch wearing polyester.”

The industrious 36-year-old — who needs less sleep than most — opened his latest venture, Bear Creek Marketplace, next to the bicycle shop in Kittredge on July 4.

Kenney describes the business as a community caf and artisan village. The caf features delectables like the Russell Wrap — a London broil sandwich with caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes and mixed field greens, and the Charlie Horse Pesto chicken sandwich with horseradish mayonnaise, provolone cheese and roasted vegetables, among other selections.

But the caf doubles as a marketplace and also features exotic spice rubs, jams, fair-trade gift items and functional pottery.

The business, which opens at 7 a.m., has breakfast menu items like egg sandwiches, yogurt/granola/berry parfaits, bacon-potato-green chili quiche and, soon, French toast.

“We are making all our stuff — nothing is store-bought,” he said. We are buying London broil and cooking it there — it’s home-style kind of cooking.”

Casey Clark manages the operation, and Cristy Shauck does much of the baking.

“We met at the Golden farmers market,” Kenney said of Shauck. “She would bring baked goods, and I would bring jams.”

Kenney transferred with the EPA from Philadelphia to Morrison (near Windy Point) about 18 months ago. In Philadelphia, he managed a farmers market and began making specialty items, and when he moved to Colorado he began selling his goods at local farmers markets.

“I started making jams, and it turned out to be a really good line of business,” Kenney said. “I figured I needed to step up and buy my own place ee”

The unique blends include Pear Lime Chocolate Jam and Apricot Lime Jam. He also offers fair-trade coffee, juices, teas and non-alcoholic signature drinks made on site.

Kenney bought the building that houses the bicycle shop in Kittredge along with his new business. By this weekend it will be painted a colorful brick red so that motorists can easily spot it.

Everything in the store is either made in Colorado or is a fair-trade item supplied by a woman in Evergreen, the sales of which help others in need.

Travis Thompson of Conifer makes the pottery. He met Kenney at a farmers market, and Kenney purchased pieces for himself because he “loved it so much.”

Kenney met with the Kittredge Civic Association before deciding to open his business in the community, and he was well received, he said.

The biggest surprise was learning that another caf was opening about two doors down at roughly the same time. In fact, both Kenney and the owners of Cup of Joe Caf were surprised to learn about each other.

But both owners now say that their differences complement one another.

As far as his food creations, Kenney thrives on the responses of people who have purchased his products at farmers markets and used them at dinner or holiday parties. He hopes locals, too, will also stop and shop.

“It’s just a very personal part of their lives that you are contributing to,” Kenney said of private parties where his products are served. “That feels good to be there with them. They are creating memories around what you made for them.”

Bear Creek Marketplace is hosting a benefit July 26 for independent filmmaker Julie Gallahue of Evergreen. The business is open six days a week and is closed Mondays. Hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.