On Wednesday morning, Sophie Dowlatshahi was busy behind the counter grinding coffee beans, brewing coffee, preparing food and serving customers at the Riverside Cafe.
“The thing that’s going to be different for us is that’s our focus,” said Henry Olson, who co-owns the store with Dowlatshahi. “We really put a lot of heart and soul into what we do, and we’ve made it our mission to cook everything from scratch and use the space as best we can.”
The Riverside Cafe opened in the Bud Werner Memorial Library two months ago and offers a selection of coffees and teas in addition to handmade pastries and a variety of menu items. The cafe is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday Friday.
The cafe’s beverage menu includes drip and decaffeinated coffees, Americanos, espressos, cappuccinos, lattes and mochas, as well as a selection of teas, including a Persian Chai Latte — Dowlatshahi makes her own tea.
The food menu includes avocado toast, made with a slice of freshly baked whole wheat bread with avocado spread and seasoned with Everything Bagel Seasonings, salt and pepper, and cherry tomatoes with a balsamic glaze.
Riverside Cafe also does Curry Hummus Toast, which starts with toasted yellow curry hummus bread spread with fresh basil, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, lemon and a drizzle of olive oil. There’s also a vegetarian pistachio pesto sandwich, turkey pesto, and a weekly soup special that’s always homemade, vegan, and gluten-free. The pastry case is filled with a variety of freshly baked goodies, including scones, superfood cream and blueberry banana oatmeal cookie.
In addition to what customers will find on the Riverside Cafe menu, the owners will also be baking for Thanksgiving this season, offering a dozen homemade dinner rolls for $25, whole wheat sourdough breads for $8.50 and a gluten-free assortment box and vegan for $40.
“We supply Seedhouse Coffee (Roasters) and we also offer The Boulder Tea Company teas — and all the food we make is 100 percent from scratch,” Dowlatshahi said. “Henry makes whole wheat sourdough toast, which we turn into avocado toast (and) curried hummus toast, and we serve it with our homemade soup every week.”
The space was previously home to several coffee shops — including Mountain Brew and Off The Beaten Path, which used the space as a second location. When Dowlatshahi and Olson noticed that the library space was vacant a few months ago, they approached the library director and asked if they could submit a business plan.
“The library built this space with the intention of having a cafe here,” Dowlatshahi said. “Henry and I have always talked about having a cafe one day, and no matter what stage of life I’ve been in, I’ve always spent so much time here in the library.”
The two young entrepreneurs are excited and grateful for the opportunity. Dowlatshahi said they are currently hosting catering events at the library and exploring other catering options.
Dowlatshahi came to Steamboat Springs to ski and worked five seasons as an instructor for Steamboat Resort. In the summers, she worked for the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and studied outdoor education and sustainability at Colorado Mountain College. She also has an interest in mental health care and has accepted a position at the Foundry Treatment Center.
Olson got her start in the culinary world in Washington state, where she worked at a spiritual retreat called Holden Village. There he learned to cook from scratch and also learned to bake.
He arrived at the Foundry in 2021 and started working part-time before working his way up to executive chef. Now he has joined forces with Dowlatshahi to pursue their dream of owning and operating a coffee shop and enjoying Steamboat Springs.
“I always come back to food; I spent so much of my free time cooking and preparing food,” Dowlatshahi said. “Henry was the executive chef at the Foundry Treatment Center, where we learned how much it adds to people’s day when they eat healthy, 100% made-from-scratch food. We were like, “Let’s make a coffee shop one day.” It’s something we’ve always wanted to do – and here we are.”
John F. Russell is a business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.