New Silt Gourmet Grocery offers farm-fresh produce, local flavors
Fresh cuts of beef supplied directly from nearby Divide Creek Ranch, racks full with a colorful multitude of Don Juan Chile spices nabbed from Tortilleria La Roca in Carbondale, eggs laid right around the corner, at Hogback Farm.
These are just a few examples of the fresh fare available at Silt Gourmet Grocery. This neighborhood-style market, located at the South Eighth Street and U.S. Highway 6, recently opened its doors.
“I think people are happy that it’s close, it’s local, and we’re all a well-known staff in the valley,” Silt Gourmet Grocery owner Geneve Kashnig, 42, said. “We’ve all been in retail or food.”
Silt, a small western Garfield County town with less than 4,000 inhabitants, has gone without its own grocery store for some time. Skip’s Farm to Market, an organic grocer which opened up shop in early 2019, shuttered in January.
But Kashnig, whose employee base includes former Skip’s operator Jerry Ruiz, former 19th Street Diner worker of 20 years Wanza Daly as well as six additional employees, decided to change that.
Kashnig, who said she deliberately didn’t get a liquor license to sell beer because she didn’t want to dilute the local market, wanted to stock her shelves with local selection.
“Because we’re not Walmart and we’re not Kroger, and we’re a small store; we kind of don’t have access to big food,” Kashnig explained. “But that’s who we were kind of mad at, to begin with. And, so, by bringing it home, bringing it local — whether it’s free trade or rainforest alliances or organic or made in Colorado — it allowed us to support vendors and give better food to the consumer.”
Take, for instance, their farm-fresh, gourmet deli in the back. Patrons are welcome to order a sandwich complete with buttercup cheese from Belgium, locally-produced eggs, and what Kashnig calls “fat, juicy bacon” held together by bagel slices compliments of Aspen’s Louis Swiss Pastry Inc.
“We wanted to create a social, happy place that had everything you couldn’t get in Silt, with people that you knew and a building that was iconic,” she said. “It’s like coming in with your girlfriends for hibiscus juice.”
Kashnig said foot traffic has so far been good. Her only break is when “she closes her eyes,” she said.
Regulars are already noticeable, Kashnig acknowledged. One patron, Linda Cerise — referred to as “the orange lady” on account of her love for consistently purchasing Silt Gourmet oranges — has already stepped through the doors numerous times.
“I think it’s a really nice asset and it’s in a very convenient location,” Cerise said of the new Silt grocery. “I’m very happy that it’s here.”
Ruiz, a 47-year-old bilingual grocery manager whose name is known throughout business circles in the Colorado and Roaring Fork river valleys, echoed Cerise’s opinion on Silt Gourmet Grocery.
“I think it’s unique because both me and (Kashnig) are here,” he said. “We know a lot of people in the valley. And it’s the only place between New Castle and Rifle.”
Ruiz teamed up with Kashnig about 11 months ago. They’d plan and apply several renovations before opening their doors.
Kashnig’s business experience, meanwhile, comes equipped with various opportunities to refine her people skills and business sense.
Kashnig, an Aspen native who lives on a 15-acre farm in the Rifle area and spends her summers playing polo, also said it was her experience in an all-girls boarding school in New Jersey that whipped her into business shape.
“It taught me so much about being an independent woman and the sky’s the limit and working hard can pay off in so many different ways,” she said. “You travel, eat well and get new boots and go to work and do well and you could have nice things, and you stay happy and people enjoy being around successful people. It was such a good, good experience, that school.”
As for bringing together her new grocery store with Ruiz?
“We came together one day,” she said, “It was the right thing, at the right time, at the right place, with the right people.”
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Spooky season is here in Garfield County. Mini ghosts and dinosaurs will soon be walking the streets, hunting precious sugar.