butcher baker

The Butcher & The Baker has shifted its business — as have many in Telluride — to take-out, ensuring staff and customer safety, but still feeding a grateful community. (Courtesy photo)

It’s safe to say, that when it comes to doing business during a pandemic, restaurateurs are throwing away the usual playbook. Driven by a desire to keep employees working and to offer dining options to a community sheltering at home in compliance with public health orders due to COVID-19, dining establishments are getting creative.

Shuttered since mid-March when San Miguel County public health officials issued shelter-at-home orders and the state’s governor ordered all ski resorts to cease operations, The Butcher & The Baker has recently emerged from its hibernation as of April 20. The time off gave the café and bakery’s owner, Megan Ossola, time to rethink just how she would do business.

Butcher, as some locals shorthand the popular eatery, is known for its farm-to-table philosophy, sinful baked goods and its welcoming, modern vibe (though hanging out in the historic building is off-limits for now). Diners can order either from a menu, or select items from the deli case, all the while gazing on an array of cookies, tarts, scones, cupcakes and cakes while waiting in line. Working folks love the deli case for its healthy salads — anything from crisp greens to hearty chicken or tuna, and pasta and grains — that are easily boxed for take-out. Dining in means adding a craft cocktail to the meal to sip while waiting on menu items like sandwiches, appetizers, soup and imaginative lunch and dinner specials.

For the most part, the only thing that’s different is that patrons can’t linger, as the pandemic forced a few re-jiggers.

“We have been working hard to create a safe space for our staff and customers, as well as a thoughtful process for managing social distancing while supporting our community through delicious food,” Ossola wrote on a recent social media post. “Our hope is to adapt as a small business here in Telluride during this unique time, while still embodying the mission and vision of this restaurant. We're committed to supporting local farmers and workers, taking care of our dedicated staff, and feeding our amazing community here in Telluride.”

That farm-to-table philosophy just got a little closer to home, as Megan and her husband J.J. purchased a farm near Montrose in 2018, where Ryan Ossola and Big Mountain Farms will start producing.  A 3,000-square-foot greenhouse was built, which the family hopes will supply the restaurant for years to come.

The 10-acre property came with a historic 1800s farmhouse, a century-old heirloom orchard and “five tons of junk.” The Ossolas have planted hemp, harvested apples, pears and apricots and had the property added to the National List of Historic Places.

“(We) have been working tirelessly to restore it in hopes of bringing our own home-grown produce directly to your plates,” according to the website.

Butcher is offering family-style “quarantine” dinners for four for take-out, and if it’s been a long day, there are cocktail pairings available, too. Meals like pho, fish and chips, spaghetti and meatballs, fish tacos and barbequed pulled pork sandwich kits will lend comfort to stressful times.

The breakfast menu is also online and features all the morning favorites including the breakfast bacon sandwich and those killer breakfast burritos, which come with veggies or sausage.

The Baker half of the Butcher & The Baker is also hard at work in the kitchen. Cookies, trifle, croissants, cheesecake and the world-famous Cindabuns are freshly made each day. Just call ahead to see what’s available on any given day. 

For lunch, order sandwiches, salads and other packable items and take advantage of warmer weather ahead for an al fresco meal on your deck. Butcher staff will be stocking both the deli and freezer daily with freshly-made goodies. All bulk items will be pre-packaged in pint or quart sized containers to minimize contact. 

Visit the website at butcherandbakercafe.com, or call 970-728-2899 to order.