During October, the Town of Telluride enters the fall offseason. This time gives businesses the chance to recuperate, restock and reset for the upcoming winter season, as many take a much-needed break. One of those businesses is the Coffee Cowboy.
On Oct. 1, owners Hailey Arnold and Scott Keating transitioned from their summer hours of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. to their current offseason hours of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Instead of having two to three shifts per day, they will now only have one, Arnold explained. In addition to the change in hours, the menu also looks slightly different.
“The burritos are taking a break for personal reasons, but will hopefully be back soon,” Arnold said.
Arnold and Keating do not yet have a definitive date when they will be fully open for the winter season, however, Arnold predicts it will be around Thanksgiving.
The Coffee Cowboy’s timeline for the offseason is similar to other businesses in the town. In a report from the Telluride Tourism Board, over 40 local restaurants will either be closed entirely for varying amounts of time or adjust their hours and days of operation during the offseason
Typically, business close or adjust hours whenever the gondola closes.
According to the Town of Mountain Village, the gondola will close on Oct. 17 and reopen Nov. 19. During that time, the carts will be taken off the rails and serviced.
Keating, who also works as a full-time carpenter and is an avid snowboarder, looks forward to the slower pace and handling work-life balance a bit better during the upcoming season.
“Regardless of if you’re a business owner or not, I think everybody struggles with work-life balance in this town,” Keating said. “It’s manageable now, but I think we are all starting to feel the burnout.”
This will be the first fall offseason for Arnold and Keating, as the two friends bought the business on Nov. 3, 2020. Arnold worked at the Coffee Cowboy under the previous owners as a barista for three years before moving into the co-owner role. Keeping it in the Coffee Cowboy family was a priority to the previous owners, Arnold explained.
The biggest challenge the new owners have faced within the past year, Arnold explained, is keeping workers. This past summer, they were able to open two windows because they had enough employees. This prevented lines from getting too long. However, at least four of the employees in the summer were high schoolers and college kids who left mid-September to return to school. According to Keating, they just signed a few new “solid” employees and refers to employee turnover as a “revolving door.”
“Hopefully, the revolving door closes for a bit until spring,” he added.
The baristas and owners are not the only ones able to catch their breath during the new hours of Coffee Cowboy. Since the menu changes, it allows a much-needed break to people who create and supply those products. Like a lot of businesses in San Miguel County, the owners often work together to keep products local. The Coffee Cowboy’s pastries come from Ophir, the banana bread is from Thorneycroft Kitchen and Bakery in Norwood, and the burritos are from Mesa Rose Farms near Telluride.
Especially during the summer season, when the burritos and other products ran late, Arnold encouraged customers to have empathy and grace if they did not arrive by 8 a.m.
“Those are made by humans very early in the morning and are made with a lot of care and local ingredients. Sometimes, if the burritos didn’t come at exactly 8 a.m., it is because they got stuck in the same traffic coming into town like everybody else,” Arnold said.
Arnold is excited about her second winter as co-owner, but believes not much will change. She hopes to reimplement last winter’s popular menu option: drinks of the day. This option allowed baristas to create and promote their own specialty drinks.
“It was a fun, little creative outlet for whoever’s working to invent something and share with people that they might not know we have the ingredients for,” Arnold said.
Arnold looks forward to sipping on her favorite winter drink, a peppermint mocha, at the Coffee Cowboy. Whereas Keating’s preferred winter drink is an “oak milk latte, plain and simple.”
Keating asked patrons to be patient and understanding during the coming months if they have to close for a day or two here and there. But he said that one of the most gratifying things about being a business owner in Telluride is the support they have received from the local community.
“The amount of support we have had from the local population is so unbelievable and gratifying,” Keating said. “People have really come out for us, and I can’t thank them enough.”