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Thursday, January 2,2014

Lyons restaurants are feeding the recovery

By Angela Buchanan

Lyons restaurants still rebounding after flood

Venture a few streets away from the downtown area in Lyons and the scope of the flood damage is still palpable, with uninhabitable houses, washed out side streets, and debris piles waiting to be moved by the heavy construction vehicles still dotting the landscape.

But downtown itself provides few lingering clues of the devastation of the September floods. Most shops are open for business, holiday decorations are on display, and the general vibe is one of forging ahead, especially in local restaurants.

When Lyons residents were allowed back into their homes in late October, restaurants were among the first businesses to reopen, engineering a food service based on what was possible with the still-compromised infrastructure. Now, a little more than three months post-flood, many of the restaurants have returned to their normal winter hours, with full menu service. You can once again get an order of crispy fried pickles at Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ, or an eggnog shake at Lyons Dairy Bar. You can enjoy a chai and a gluten-free scone at The Stone Cup and be blissfully unaware that business was ever disrupted. Despite this welcome return to business-as-usual, all of the local restaurants are still working to recover from weeks of lost revenue, and some face larger challenges still.

Mindy Tallent, owner of The Stone Cup and the newly opened Rise and Shine Bistro, said the post-holiday season is a tough time for businesses to recover.

“This is typically our slowest season in town, so it is extra challenging for any business to reopen now,” she says.

“We have had many problems and we have to relocate ourselves,” says Sushi Matsuri owner Yumi Sueyoshi. “Lyons is trying to help us find a space, but no luck so far.”

Lacking flood insurance and government assistance, Sushi Matsuri is relying on volunteer help and fundraisers to reopen. Sueyoshi says a special fundraising dinner is being planned for sometime in January. The details will be available on the Sushi Matsuri Facebook page. An online donation website has also been set up on Fundly. The site has raised $16,000 so far, but more is needed for the restaurant to reopen. More information is available at http://bit.ly/1iWBKty.

Another Lyons standard, The Black Bear Inn, remains closed to work on restoration and funding the reopening.

Caroline Wyppler, one of the family owners and operators at the restaurant, says that they have received some grants, but not enough to cover their costs, and they have a donation button set up at their website, www.blackbearinn.com. For Wyppler, the challenges of the flood were further compounded by family health problems, but they are still moving forward with a soft opening set for Jan. 11, and are re-launching with a new menu focused on more budget-friendly dining options.

Wyppler expresses gratitude for all of the volunteer help from the community to deal with the restoration process.

“The community is a strong one and we are all pulling together … the networking has been wonderful and we are just so happy to be a part of Lyons,” she says.

Reservations are required for the soft opening dinner event, with details available at their website.

Another Lyons restaurant feeling the heat is Button Rock Bakery, which had the misfortune of complicating the inherently perilous process of opening a business with a scheduled opening date that corresponded with the immediate aftermath of the flood.

Jamie Lachel, chef and owner, says the process delayed their opening date by more than a month, but as of Dec. 2 they are open and fully operational, serving a variety of freshly prepared breads, pastries and specialty cakes. The bakery will have extended hours during the peak summer months, but for now they are just serving breakfast and lunch, from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“We serve savory options and lunch and dinner options like trays of lasagna, mac and cheese, strata, chicken salad and soups,” says Lachel.

Those with a sweet bent will still find plenty of options at Button Rock Bakery, however, especially because custom wedding and event cakes are a cornerstone of the business. The delayed opening meant that the bakery missed out on some key holiday order opportunities, so it is now working to get the word out about the bakery and dining options.

Though the recovery in Lyons is moving forward more rapidly than was imagined, support from the extended Boulder County community is still essential to the process.

Tallent sums it up well with her comments that “many challenges lie ahead.”

“Much of our town landscape is unrecognizable,” she says. “Our parks are gone. There are still many who are displaced and may not ever be able to return to Lyons, as many homes in the flood plain will not be able to be rebuilt. Yet our community is amazing. There is a real sense of hope and forward thinking.”

In addition to individual fundraising sites, those looking to help can also contribute to the Lyons Community Foundation, at www.lyonscf.org, which has distributed individual grants of up to $5,000.

But an easier and more delicious way is just to go eat at one of the restaurants that reopened its doors and is now feeding the recovery.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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