For those not from around here, Colona is a blink-and-you-might-miss-it community, but for those who have spent any amount of time in our part of the Western Slope, the few buildings in the tiny community are very familiar.
Those who lived here before the COVID-19 pandemic will specifically remember a white building on the side of U.S. 550 between Montrose and Ridgway.
It served delicious coffee, donuts and other goods as La Zona Colona, but it closed, and since 2020, the charming little building has sat dormant.
That all changed on Jan. 12, when Heather Crane, a Montrose local for the past 11 years, purchased the building with her husband Patrick.
She has plans of giving life to that building yet again, to serve coffee, pastries and other small bites. In that regard, it is very familiar territory.
Crane, 42, purchased Pine Cone Catering about nine years ago and has been catering events and occasions since then, offering everything from full dinners, to light servings, to breads and desserts.
About seven years ago, however, Crane started a different business, a side hustle, she says, called Lady Bird Baking.
That side hustle has taken her to different Farmers Markets on our part of the Slope, and she currently sells baked goods, salmon plates, quiches and breakfast burritos at the Montrose Farmers Market, Ridgway Farmers Market and in Mountain Village, as well.
That side hustle has become a successful enough venture to turn into a full-time gig, according to Crane, who has resorted to taking orders and reservations for her offerings on Facebook, so she doesn’t run out before her regulars can make it to the Farmers Market.
“It was probably like late spring last year, early summer (when we started talking about a permanent place),” Crane told the Montrose Business Times. “We really got serious about it and started a conversation with the previous owner of the building (in Colona).”
When it’s ready to open, the new business will operate simply as “Lady Bird.” Crane plans to serve much of the same fare she currently offers at the various farmers markets, plus coffee.
In addition to purchasing the building, Crane went to Ouray County (Colona is located on the edge of Montrose and Ouray counties) to secure a special-use permit for the space.
“They granted us a 10-year special-use permit to be open to the public,” she said. “The standard permit in Ouray County is two years. We applied to have it for 10, and hoped they would consider it. And they did, so that was really awesome.”
Crane said she is after a “traditional bakery” type setting in the new place.
She wants to offer “yummy breads and pastries and coffee” and to operate as a “really warm, inviting place that people can hang out.”
She should be successful at the “yummy” part, as she has a long history in the buisness.
Her first job in high school, when she was growing up in Rockford, Illinois, was in a little meat market and bakery that had been open since the 1940s. It was there she first discovered her passion for baking. She says the thing she enjoys making most is bread — specifically, rustic, old-world style bread.
She and Patrick moved out here about 14 years ago and have lived in Montrose for the past 11. They have a 16-year-old son, Harper.
On the corner of Highway 550 and Hotchkiss Avenue, the site, besides housing La Zona Colona, has been home to the Pit Stop Restaurant and, in the 1970s, was home to Jim’s BBQ.
The building is 750 square feet and was rebuilt and renovated in 2017. Crane says changes will be minimal and was working on repainting the space this week. She hopes to open some time in March.
Justin Tubbs is the Montrose Business Times editor. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 970-765-0915 or mobile at 254-246-2260.