Lunch Money

Locals Cynthia Sommers and Sheila Phinny recently opened the doors to Lunch Money. (Photo by Justin Criado/Telluride Daily Planet)

Cynthia Sommers and Sheila Phinny love lunch. Just the mention of the midday meal brings certain images and memories to mind, the two longtime locals explained.

“It’s my favorite meal. I love the word ‘lunch.’ It just makes me hungry. I feel like it makes everyone want something. When you hear the word ‘lunch’ it evokes something in you,” Phinny said, adding that her lunch of choice is typically a tuna melt.

“It just resonates with people. You remember, like you always want to make sure you have enough money for lunch,” Sommers added.

That’s why the two friends named their recently opened grab-and-go spot Lunch Money, which sits in the breezeway at 126 W. Colorado Ave. in Suite 102B, the former Gargoyle’s Gift Shop and Brown Bag storefront.

“We thought it was cute,” Phinny said of the name, which is accompanied by a stylized “C” logo reminiscent of a cent sign. “I always imagined it in this space, which was really cool that it was available. The rest is history.”

Inspired by the healthy, fast-paced lifestyle of LA, the two friends have kicked around the idea, and desire, to bring such a gourmet grocer in town, but it wasn’t until recently that the opportunity presented itself. That’s when Phinny approached Sommers.

“In our group of friends, we kind of always discussed our desire for a fast, healthy lunch option. I lived in LA for six years, my family is out there, and every time I go back and forth I’m like, ‘God, it’s so easy to eat in LA,’ especially the things that I want but don’t necessarily want to make for myself because it’s a lot of work,” Phinny said. “I finally just thought why don’t we just do it, and Cynthia was the person who I wanted to do it with. We talked about it and decided it was the right time, and we were the right partnership and hit the ground running the next day.”

Sommers was on board, and launching a new restaurant during the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t necessarily present too many challenges, as the business model was primarily centered around premade items and takeout.

“Throughout the summer she had kept saying that she needed to talk to me about something. Finally we got together at the end of the summer, and she came over and we talked for about 45 minutes, and I was an immediate yes. I just knew that it was meant to be and the right time,” Sommers said. “The concept from the beginning was conducive to what was going on, and still going on, in the world. That never made us nervous because we were doing everything that everyone else in the restaurant world had to adjust to.”

The menu consists of bowls, soups, salads and wraps, though those items will change slightly, depending on the availability of locally sourced ingredients. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Lunch Money will also offer Pescado sushi, including veggie and protein rolls, as well as poke bowls. Don’t forget a fresh juice and bag of chips, too.

“Like our window says, ‘Easy. Healthy. Fresh. Fast.’ We have a lot of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. We’re going to change our menu based on the freshest organic ingredients we can get, keep people healthy and get them back to their daily lives as quickly as possible,” Phinny said.

After renovating the space to include a countertop with semi-wall and a cooler, Lunch Money officially opened its doors on March 9. The duo has learned a lot up until this point and everything has gone well.

“It’s actually been miraculously smooth, and we’ve been really lucky,” Phinny said. “It’s been a good start.”

Customers have been appreciative as well, Sommers said in sharing some of the feedback they’ve received so far.

“Thank you for being here. Thank you for doing this. People have been so generously supportive,” she explained.

“It’s wonderful hearing that,” Phinny added.

Lunch Money is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., though hours will change with the seasons. For the most up-to-date information, including latest menu items and offerings, visit Lunch Money’s Instagram, @lunchmoneytelluride.