San Juan Brews is expected to take over the coffee vendor spot at Montrose Regional Airport as early as this week.
The location at the airport has been occupied by The Coffee Trader, but San Juan Brews won the contract in the most recent bidding process and signed the deal this past week.
Montrose County commissioners had the San Juan Brews contract on their meeting agenda for Wednesday, June 21 and were expected to approve and finalize the deal.
The contract award is just one of many big things happening for the business, which will begin rebranding as San Juan Coffeehouse this year.
John and Davina Pope, the owners of San Juan Brews, recently leased a building in Olathe and will expand their business to that location soon. John, an Olathe native, hopes to have that spot open by mid-July, in time for the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival in August.
The Main Street coffeehouse also recently added a food menu, hiring a new kitchen manager and more staff. All the new additions mean the Popes will employ 8-10 new workers, or about 20 staff in total.
The airport contract
The Popes saw the airport vending location was up for bid earlier in April and threw their hat in the ring.
The bid process entails filling out an application and submitting it to the county. The county, when awarding the contract, considers the fit of the business for 40% — how the business model fits for the specific location and how it represents the community. Another 40% consideration is the percentage of sales paid by the business to the airport and county, as a concessionair fee. The final 20% of the consideration is based on how long the company is in business.
Dee Coram, who owns The Coffee Trader with Phuong Nguyen, said the bid became pricier than they’d like for the location. “It was just way beyond what we were willing to pay. We enjoyed being there,” he said. “But, you know, it is what it is.”
The Coffee Trader, which is coming up on 24 years of doing business, still has two locations in Montrose, one in Gunnison and one in Grand Junction.
John didn’t say what the concessionaire fee will be for them, but that will be made public when the county commission finalizes the deal. The county declined to comment, as commissioners hadn’t yet publicly approved the contract at press time.
“It was supposed to go to committee,” John said of the bidding process. “Then two days later, we got an email that we were awarded the bid.”
The Popes hope the new location will enhance their visibility in the community, especially to tourists that are making their way through the airport terminal.
“We always thought it’d be a great business move for us (if the location became available),” John said. “It’s just a good opportunity to catch folks as they arrive in Montrose. It lets them see you, like Horsefly (Brewery)… And then hopefully, while they’re in town they hunt you down.”
The business was in the process of getting airport security badges for each of the employees that will work at the new location as of last week, and John said it was “a quick turnaround” as the business was allowed to start moving in as soon as June 20.
The space is an empty shell, but it has already been designed for the setup they need, John said.
“It’s just a matter of rolling refrigeration and our espresso machine in, and we can get up and running,” he said.
The coffeehouse, which has several drinks named for the different mountain peaks of the San Juans, plans to put a wraparound photo of the San Juan Mountains at the coffee bar at the airport, labeling each of the mountain peaks.
The Popes, in leasing the Olathe building, poised themselves to be ready to move into the airport, if the contract was awarded to them. That just means they’re slightly delaying the opening in Olathe.
New location in Olathe
The owners of the Pea Green Store also own the space for the new San Juan Coffeehouse location in the 300 block of Main Street in downtown Olathe.
Being an Olathe native, John always wanted to open a coffeehouse there.
“We went down on Easter weekend, just on a whim and drove Main Street to see if there was anything available,” he said. “We got out and walked around and saw the “for lease” sign on the building. It had just gone up like the day before.”
They hopped on it and decided to move in. It’s already set up to work as a coffeehouse, John said, but they will make some changes, move in the new equipment, and plan to open by mid-July.
Forage at San Juan
Another change at San Juan Brews in Montrose is the addition of a food menu. The business owners had hoped to add food in January, but it didn’t work out, John said.
Timing was better in the summer.
Joe Ouellette, who owns Taco Del Gnar in Ridgway, consulted the Popes on how to start a kitchen. Kevin Saff, who previously worked at Gnar and brings in 20+ years of experience, has come on to manage the kitchen and built the menu for breakfast and lunch.
They will also have a Saturday brunch with a Bloody Mary bar, which occurs during the neighboring Farmers Market’s hours.
Lunch items include a B.L.A.T., tuna melt, Caprese salad and more.
Breakfast lasts from 7 – 11 a.m. everyday, and lunch lasts from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Justin Tubbs is the Montrose Business Times editor. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 970-765-0915 or mobile at 254-246-2260.