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Deja Brew’s new owners plan additions, not changes

Deja Brew co-owners Sarah Niebler and John Theodore stand outside of the shop in downtown Glenwood.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Deja Brew now has sunshine, too.

Or rather, even more sunny baked goods, provided by Sunshine & Moons Bakery, 2550 Colorado Highway 82, suite No. A208.

In July, Sarah Niebler and John Theodore, the Sunshine & Moons co-owners, purchased Deja Brew, 1101 Grand Ave., from Matt and Katie Starbuck, slightly altering the coffee shop name to Deja Brew & Sunshine Too, Niebler said.



“We didn’t immediately announce the purchase, because we wanted to do a slow roll out to give John time to adjust,” Niebler said, explaining her husband would primarily run the coffee stop while she focused on the bakery. “We don’t want people to think we changed Deja Brew; we’re just adding to it.”

Deja Brew co-owner John Theodore pours a coffee for a customer at the shop in downtown Glenwood.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Although the java joint has sold Sunshine & Moons pastries for years, the couple are now ramping up the products people can purchase from the bakery at Deja Brew.



The coffee is slated to remain the same, but in addition to an increased selection of treats, customers can now score sweet pies at Deja Brew on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

This month, the available sweet pie flavors are pumpkin and pecan, and in December, Deja Brew is scheduled to offer key lime and chocolate silk sweet pies.

“We’re also toying around with the idea of selling lunch foods in the future at the coffee shop, which would be made at our bakery,” Theodore said.

Prior to taking over the business, Theodore said he spent about five weeks with the Starbucks learning the ins and outs of the coffee world.

“They killed the coffee game, and now we’re going to kill the baking game, too,” he said.

Before the pandemic, the coffee shop had a small indoor area open to customers, but in 2020, the Starbucks renovated the interior to better accommodate social-distancing requirements and employee workflows. Niebler said they don’t have plans to reopen the interior.

“We’re thinking about keeping it pretty much the way it is for now, because they had the efficiency really dialed in,” she said.

The couple said they plan to apply the same business strategies at the coffee shop as they do at the bakery: Source quality ingredients locally as much as possible, provide a high level of customer service and cater to people with alternative diets or special dietary needs.

Niebler and Theodore said they’ve been friends with the Starbucks for years, and when they heard the shop might go up for sale, Niebler and Theodore decided to go all in.

“Over the years, so many people have approached me about having a footprint for the bakery closer to downtown,” Niebler said. “Deja Brew already had amazing reviews as well as a following of both locals and tourists. It was a perfect opportunity.”

ifredregill@postindependent.com

 

Larimer Square in November 2020 (Andy Cross/Denver Post)
Pandemic-friendly outdoor dining spaces could become permanent in Denver

While it won’t happen automatically or overnight, Denver is one step closer to becoming a more permanent outdoor dining city, with pedestrian streets and sidewalk patios in place well beyond initial restrictions that limited indoor dining capacity.

That means some city blocks could become entirely car-free, with tents and tables lining them throughout the year. Larimer Square is one example of a prime candidate. Others include South Pearl Street and Glenarm Place on the 16th Street Mall, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said.

Hancock last week announced that he wants to see some of the city’s 373 pandemic-era expanded patios become permanent following their trial run that began in May 2020 and lasts through October 2022.

“I think this is a fabulous concept,” Hancock said. “I think people really enjoy patio seating, and I want to continue it with safety being paramount.”

Which patios will become permanent remains to be seen. The businesses that have piloted the program likely have another 12 months ahead of continued city monitoring and quarterly application renewals before the long-term plan kicks in.

Throughout the pandemic, Denver’s temporary program has allowed restaurants to open up more outdoor seating, moving tables and chairs into the right-of-way, in blocked-off street sections, between sidewalks and curbs and onto adjacent parking lots.

“It was absolutely instrumental in helping us keep our doors open and our staff employed,” Angela Filliam, manager of Daughter Thai Kitchen & Bar, said of the city’s program. “As things are still uncertain with COVID, we fully support the decision to keep the program going, as it has been vital to our business.”

To keep the program going, restaurant owners will have to clear their constructed patios for future use with the city’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, Department of Community Planning and Development and Department of Excise and Licenses, to name a few.

“We want to be safe, so we don’t want people out there drinking lattes with cars whizzing by,” Nancy Kuhn with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said while outlining the long road ahead.

But Hancock estimates that the outcomes have been well worth business owners’ efforts so far.

For the businesses that utilized them over the last 18 months, Denver’s expanded patios have saved more than $280 million in restaurant revenue, Hancock said. And more than half of restaurants’ summer revenue this year came from patio seating, according to the Colorado Restaurant Association.

Still, winter brings unique challenges to outdoor dining. As of Tuesday, 111 restaurants in Denver have applied to extend their expanded patio permits through Jan. 31, 2022. Cold temperatures, snow-plowing and water drainage have to be taken into account in the winter months, Kuhn said.

COVID-19 cases will also factor in determining restaurants’ need to continue their outdoor dining programs year-round. As of this week, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment’s chief medical officer, Dr. Eric France, suggested that businesses such as restaurants might need to require masks again or check customers for proof of vaccination.

Hancock reiterated on Oct. 26 that Denver isn’t enforcing any indoor mask mandates or vaccination requirements, though. Nor does the city have any plans to yet. Neighboring Boulder and Larimer counties, meanwhile, have reinstated their own policies.

“Data will lead us, and everything remains on the table,” Hancock said.

—Josie Sexton


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