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Side dish: Stir, hip art space and coffee house 

Commotion at the Bon

If spots like Denver's Root Down have proven anything (and they have), it's that buildings such as old auto garages are prime for conversion into hip eateries and drink houses. Which is why Stir (418-6188) could easily succeed at 2330 N. Wahsatch Ave., a former car shop inside Bon Shopping Center.

Financially, the venture is equal parts Eric Umenhofer of Colorado Coffee Merchants and his former barista, Sabrina Soong. But Umenhofer has made it clear that this is Soong's baby, and that it's an arts space first, coffee shop second.

Soong, an abstract artist herself, plans to host monthly art openings on her spacious walls, plus everything from live music and food-and-drink demos to yoga and food swaps. She's used all repurposed materials in a minor facelift of the space, and plans to take advantage of the generous natural light for a vertical garden that could produce a few ingredients for her menu.

"I want to carry the nature of the garage and neighborhood into the space," she says, "and make it as eco-friendly as I can. ... Even in winter, I want people to feel like they're in a conservatory or outside."

Soong hopes to launch in mid-April with a full espresso bar and local pastries, including house-finished donuts — as in, she'll buy basic ones and add her own fun toppings. From there, she envisions expansion to sandwiches and the like, using local sourcing whenever possible. On warm days, she'll open the garage doors for "patio seating."

As for the name, "Stir has so many meanings to it that seemed to fit," she says. "... Commotion, excitement ... disturb, bring to life ... I loved all those synonyms, and I want them to be part of what we are."

The business of baking

The Colorado Cottage Foods Act (see "Baking powder keg," News, March 8) may have just become law, but community kitchens continue to open to help those in between the incubation and self-sustaining-business phases. The latest, Orchard Ovens Bakery (515 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, orchardovensbakery.com), is based inside the Business of Art Center.

Co-op president Beth Kempp and her family currently provide a variety of baked goods, from cookies, muffins, truffle pops and turnovers to challah bread and Michigan-coal-mine-inspired "pasties" (like Hot Pockets with pie crust). As she looks to attract up to a half-dozen more businesses to share her kitchen space, other items such as kolaches (fruit pastries) will hit the display cases inside the building's front café.

May 19 will bring an official grand opening celebration, and by then the menu should include soups and more sandwiches past the pastries, teas, Manitou spring-water lemonade and coffees. (The BAC holds a separate liquor license.) The coffees, including a proprietary Kona Krazy blend, come from Monument-based Coffee Courier.

  • Also: Coming soon, Orchard Ovens Bakery

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