The holidays are a celebratory time for tourists in the box canyon. But this year, for Anton Benitez, executive director of the Telluride Mountain Village Home Owners Association, the holiday season could easily have been a testing time: would guests complain that there was no grocery store in Mountain Village?
Or, rather, that there was no grocery store available? The Mountain Village market is undergoing a complete reconstruction, and is scheduled to reopen in May. The fact that the construction site is highly visible has likely helped reassure guests that an end is in sight, Benitez said. He’s been forthcoming about the reconstruction online as well, having posted dozens of photos on the TMVOA blog detailing the new building’s progression.
“I believe our communications have been thorough. We’ve kept people updated, and construction is moving quickly,” he said. “The fact that people can see the progress is obviating the need” for them to ask, hey, where’s the market?
“I’ll be honest,” Benitez said. “I’ve not been contacted by any of our members over the holidays regarding, ‘Where do I find groceries?’ Everyone’s been pretty much bringing their own food, or going down to Clark’s Market” in downtown Telluride.
Not that people absolutely have to do that; more and more, the goods have been coming to them.
“Local businesses have stepped up” to provide additional grocery and dining options, said Zoe Dohnal, business development and sustainability senior manager for the Town of Mountain Village. She’s glad: “I’m the parent of a one-year-old,” Dohnal said, “and I recently needed a quart of milk. I went, ‘Oh, no …. wait! It’s here!”
The milk, and eggs, and a host of grocery-store staples are available at the Sunshine Store, located in the Franz Klammer breezeway. “We’ve added butter, and yogurt, and fruit, lunch meats, cheeses, bread and bagels, peanut butter and jelly, sausages and bacon, granola bars and chips … I could go on. There’s a lot,” said Karen Hemphill, the store’s co-owner. “We were trying to think, what do people need?” (The store is open seven days a week from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.)
Another recent addition since construction of the market commenced has been a market- on-wheels — South’s Market — which delivers Costco groceries (and other staples) to Mountain Village every week in addition to its service to downtown Telluride. A Costco membership is not required, nor is a minimum purchase.
(Costco is justly famous for its plump rotisserie chickens, available from South’s Market for $6.24 each plus a “local pickup fee” of 10 percent, for a total of $6.86. Each chicken is enough to feed four people, with a carcass left over for chicken soup.)
South’s Market delivers to Mountain Village Wednesdays in the Market Plaza Parking Lot between about 3-6 p.m. (visit southsmarket.com to learn more).
“It’s been a great asset, and a lot of people are utilizing South’s Market,” Dohnal said.
There are also additional dining options, she pointed out: “The Rusty Rhino has upped their menu offerings and now offers breakfast tacos. And there’s a food truck up here that offers yummy coffee, breakfast and lunch. I feel like we have so many more options than before. Before, we just had the market, and now it’s much more diverse.”
The food truck is more than a truck: it’s a business opportunity for Scott Jacobs, a corporate attorney who’d already realized one part of a long-held dream by quitting his job and moving to Rico. Part two of said dream was to open a restaurant. “I’m a foodie,” Jacobs said, and while not a classically trained chef, “I was very lucky to take people out to some of the best restaurants in New York City and LA for years as part of my job.”
Jacobs had envisioned opening a “brick-and-mortar” place in Rico, but opportunity came knocking this winter, when the Mountain Village market evanesced, and he recognized the need. The result is “Silver Creek,” open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday next to the Mountain Village market. As the market’s construction continues, the Silver Creek truck becomes less visible from the gondola, “so we’ve allowed him to post signage” in order for people to be able to spot it, Dohnal said. But you don’t have to see the truck: just follow your nose. “They’re offering barbecue, and the pillows of smoke are attracting customers,” Dohnal said.
Although “we’re basically invisible from the gondola, people love our food is what I hear,” Jacobs said. “We have a meat-heavy menu,” he added. “Everything is made in-house: we make our own bacon, corned beef, and we do a California tri-tip (Jacobs lived in Southern California for years) that’s really delicious, and a pork butt. We’re expanding into barbecue.” In fact, grilling is Jacobs’ original passion. “I’ve been into barbecuing and grilling meats ever since I was a kid,” he said. “As soon as my dad and granddad let me onto the grill, I was there.”