One sign of success in Snowmass Village's business economy is having new businesses come to town or seeing existing businesses reinvented.
On Oct. 25, 2010, at the height of the Great Recession, workers Veronica Sanchez and Concha Sanchez reinvented Fuel on the Snowmass Mall by purchasing the assets of the business from longtime owners Marty Swenson and Jenny Smith (who went on to reinvent another Snowmass Village business, but that's another Business Spotlight story for another day).
Veronica and Concha (who are not related) had worked for Marty and Jenny at Fuel for four years. Concha was a cook, and Veronica began at the cash register and then began to learn many different aspects of the small cafe located prominently at the Carriage Way entrance to the Snowmass Mall.
"We loved our jobs, so when Marty and Jenny decided to sell, we decided to make a go of it," said Veronica, waiting for the next group of conference customers on a late weekday morning.
They kept the small beverage and take-out food cafe menu pretty much the same, offering hot and cold beverages and gourmet take-out food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. One addition is the torta, a popular Mexican sandwich with fillings such as chicken, carne asada and guacamole.
Fuel is Veronica's first business. She was born in Basalt 25 years ago and graduated from Basalt High School. For the past eight years she has lived in Snowmass Village.
"It's calm here, and beautiful," she explained, "and the locals are great."
She does get to see plenty of them from behind her coffee station counter. Within minutes, a dozen customers, many of them wearing badges from a group conference, have slipped in and lined up behind the front counter to order a late- morning boost of coffee. The outside tables fill up quickly.
It's rumored that Mel Blumenthal, one of the Sun's more infamous columnists, hangs out at one of the outside tables when he's in town, but I can't get any dirt on him from Veronica.
"He's a great customer," she says smiling when I prod her for the real truth.
For breakfast, you can order a breakfast or specialty bagel with added items on top or create your own breakfast burrito.
Try a latte or a Spanish Salted Mocha (chocolate mocha with salted caramel drizzle) for your early morning "fuel" or one of the other smoothie specialty drinks. Veronica's favorite is the Almond Madness, a cool creation from almond butter, bananas, almond extract, agave nectar, soy milk, vanilla yogurt and ice. Matcha Green Tea Shots and Ginger Shots are also popular as morning pick-me-ups.
Paninis, sandwiches and wraps are the stars at lunch. The Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wrap comes with almond-cilantro pesto, mango, red onion, lettuce, and Jamaican Jerk vinaigrette in a tomato wrap. Many of Fuel's lunch items also serve as good options for a light dinner and can be easily boxed up for the Thursday night concerts.
When Veronica is not working, she loves the outdoors, spending time at the Snowmass Rodeo, hiking the many local trails and rollerblading. She is unmarried and would like to remain in Snowmass running the business because she likes the area and the people so well.
Fuel uses locally grown produce, organic foods and recyclable produces when possible.
Steve Alldredge is the former assistant editor/writer for the Snowmass Sun. He now runs a local communications company whose clients include Related Colorado. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.