By Betina Infante
Sopris Sun Correspondent
Adriana Liechti, aka Dri, moved to Basalt determined to build a business that would help other entrepreneurs, and be part of a community that thrives by supporting one another. A lofty goal, but after a few years in the valley, Dri is doubling down despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.
In October 2019, Dri launched Craft Coffee House in Basalt with her friends Mitchell Holdsworth and Marshall Mills. Craft swiftly became a welcoming, popular coffee spot with delicious grab and go bites. Much to everyone’s amazement, all who walked in were greeted with a cheerful “Hello” followed by their first name. The personalized, small-town experience delighted customers and positioned Craft at the center of community. Shortly afterwards, Craft began hosting local purveyors, who sold their artisanal baked goods and produce, as well as jewelry, candles, cards, and more, sourced from the community. Dri is adamant about sourcing locally, shrinking the supply chain, and providing makers with a sustainable platform from which to grow. “We had no idea we would sell all of these items – we just grew organically with the community – community is everything,” explains Dri.
By the second half of 2020, COVID and a recalcitrant landlord forced Dri to shut down, rethink her business strategy, and transform a host of challenges into new opportunity – and that takes a village … In December, long-time local Draper White introduced Dri to William (Bill) Guth, a real estate investor and developer in the valley. Guth and two other long-time valley residents, had recently purchased several buildings on Midland Ave (i.e. Former Art of Hair location and the back-alley cabin; Heather’s Savory Pies; and is now under contract with Two Rivers Café). Guth says he discovered Craft when he first began looking at Basalt. “I was blown away with what she (Dri) had created and said to myself: I have to get her to move to one of our properties. The business is cool, hip and is a community-focused anchor establishment.” Guth offered Dri space at 160 Midland Ave (formerly Art of Hair) and sweetened the deal with a five-year lease (renewable for another five more years), competitive rent rates, and financing for renovations and some of the equipment needed to relaunch Craft Coffee. “They want us to succeed, and be the Craft that we were meant to be, because it’s good for the community,” explains Dri. Clearly, community, a vision, and tenacity are propelling change in downtown Basalt.
For Guth, helping to grow Craft makes good business sense, and as the new owner of the building that houses Heather’s and potentially Two Rivers, he’s investing in a vision to revive historic downtown Basalt. “Basalt is a charming town and many people, including my own friends with young children, are moving in. Basalt has got to change. Willits stole its thunder, but it doesn’t have the same soul as historic downtown Basalt. We see renewed interest in Basalt and want to be part of the resurgence of Basalt early, and be influential and a part of the change,” explains Guth. “Change will come over time, working with creative people to inspire new commercial uses – Craft Coffee is a perfect example.”
Craft is emblematic of the new waves of young energy and entrepreneurship that are starting to thrive in the mid-valley, and these investors are looking for those businesses and entrepreneurs that can reignite Basalt’s spark. As Guth put it, “they are looking for an element of fun in their strategies. We’re so excited to be part of the resurgence of Basalt that’s full of character and soul.”
Craft Coffee plans to fully open its doors by the end of April with expanded offerings that will include their locally-roasted coffee, food favorites (burrito, soups, salads, avo toast, etc.), juices from Tonic Juicery in Carbondale, and products from many local makers. In the meantime, they are running a pop-up for coffee and juice aficionados. But, this isn’t the end of the story.
Dri is taking the community values and philosophies she embraces at Craft Coffee down the road to Carbondale where she’s planning another exciting venture with kindred entrepreneurs.
Their energy is infectious! Stay tuned for more news from Craft Coffee House and the new venture in Carbondale.