Sunday profile: Andrea Eason trades in beach for cowgirl boots
When Andrea Noeli Eason made the 2,078-mile journey from Sarasota, Florida’s beaches to Glenwood Springs’ Restaurant Row, it did not take long for the 25-year-old server to get her boot in the door.
“Getting to wear cowgirl boots, I never did that,” Eason laughed before taking a sip from her glass of white wine at Co. Ranch House’s rustic bar on her day off.
With antlers mounted on the wall and a menu featuring elk burgers, ranch beans, and Rocky Mountain Ruby Red Trout, Eason – at first – felt a bit like a fish out of water, herself.
“It was shocking, because it was so different,” Eason explained of Glenwood’s canyon cuisine, and her first day waiting tables at Co. Ranch House.
At Eason’s previous job working at the palm-tree laden Columbia Restaurant in Sarasota’s St. Armand’s Circle, it was as though she was just another face in the crowd.
“We had 38 servers on during a shift, four managers, six hostesses, eight bus boys, four bartenders, and three kitchens,” Eason described of Columbia restaurant’s turn-and-burn, grueling shifts.
“Everybody here is so established and driven,” Eason said of her Co. Ranch House co-workers, who she now considers family.
Eason, however, views customers like family, too.
When bartending, Eason loves preparing Co. Ranch House’s Blood Orange Lavender Ginger Martini for her regulars and, when serving, she still can’t get over the Colorado buffalo center cut strip.
Classifying Eason simply as a “bartender” or “server,” though, simply doesn’t cut it.
An aspiring singer, Eason has performed up and down the valley, including impromptu sing-alongs with fellow musicians underneath the Grand Avenue Bridge.
Many of the songs Eason enjoys performing weren’t tunes she heard much of on Sarasota’s beaches, either, but instead on Co. Ranch House’s Johnny Cash Pandora Radio.
“I’ll stop and play for a couple of hours and I love that,” Eason said of her spur-of-the-moment performances. “People love sitting there and listening and I love to do that.”
The server and entertainer also quickly fell in love with Denver-based folk rock band The Lumineers, in particular their song “Ain’t Nobody’s Problem,” which Eason has performed with various valley musicians at Brickhouse Pizzeria in Rifle, Heather’s in Basalt, the Black Nugget in Carbondale, and, of course, under the bridge.
“That song got me through so much,” Eason remarked. “I would listen to it and think, this is my opportunity for a new life and building myself. I related to it.”
Located within walking distance of the famous Hotel Denver and Hotel Colorado, one might expect Eason to serve primarily tourists. However, her enthusiastic spirit has converted many locals into Co. Ranch House regulars.
“One of the owners, Tom, he always jokes that after the first time he met me he said to himself, ‘Gosh, she talks a lot,’” Eason laughed. “And, I still do that.”
making it work
In a valley where billionaires push out millionaires, one can’t help but wonder how servers, particularly during the shoulder seasons, could possibly keep up with the cost of living?
“It blew my mind,” Eason said. “That’s one of the main reasons why I live in Rifle.”
When Eason made the move to Colorado a few years ago she was essentially renting a room.
“Now, I have a two-story, two-bedroom, front and backyard house for the same price I would have had for a studio apartment [in Glenwood] with a hot plate.”
Sparking a new interest
Eason’s spacious home in Rifle offers her the opportunity to hone in on her artistry. Driven by the art’s infectious ability to bring people together, Eason’s own artistic ability doesn’t stop at music, though.
In addition to music and modeling, Eason also studies welding at Colorado Mountain College and recently enrolled in arc welding.
“I’m taking that now, and I am the only girl in my class,” Eason laughed.
The singer, model, actress, aspiring welder and Co. Ranch House server clearly has a lot on her plate. And, like so many who work in the service industry, she has already built lifelong friendships with her Co. Ranch House family.
Even Eason, herself, needs a break from waiting tables sometimes. When she does, she knows exactly where to go.
“I love Native Son,” Eason said.
Known as “the dancing queen” at the local establishment within walking distance of the Co. Ranch House, Eason goes from serving regulars to being a regular herself.
“I will go to Native Son and dance for three hours straight,” Eason added.
Although not a native Coloradan, Eason embodies why so many move to the state in the first place – opportunity. And, although Eason loves to travel, she simply could not pass up Co. Ranch House.
“I just love how close we all are here. And, how supportive we all are to each other,” she said of the camaraderie at Co. Ranch House.