Tiny Pine Bistro, run by Leslie Lamont and her fiancé, Charles Ford, recently opened at 968 Main Street in Carbondale. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, and having worked in the restaurant industry there, the couple came to the Roaring Fork Valley in search of something new.
Once in the Valley, they both continued to work restaurant jobs before deciding to open their own spot, Tiny Pine Bistro. Inspiration came from meeting the Britt family, who own the building and previously operated The Beat, a restaurant, and Dancing Colours, an art store, out of the location.
“We walked through the door here and had that feeling of, ‘how do we make this happen?’” Ford told The Sopris Sun. “This dining room and kitchen evoke a certain feeling of just being simple and delicious, unassuming, and for the neighborhood and the town.”
Ford’s Grandparents owned Rocky’s Pizza in Chicago. The restaurant was a crucial part of his childhood and he hopes to create the same sense of family and community for himself and Lamont in Carbondale.
“My grandparents’ restaurant was a pillar of the community, and it took a long time for them to achieve it,” said Ford.
The couple emphasized appreciation for the relationships they have developed with small businesses and locals while overcoming the “first hardest part” of opening a restaurant in the post-COVID era. Lamont and Ford both value guest relations to a high degree and believe it’s only possible in a welcoming and safe environment for their employees.
“Once you hire someone, they’re part of the family. That takes a lot of understanding, because everyone is struggling right now. It is not an easy time,” said Ford. “It is hard to get up and go to work somedays and for us to be able to offer a place where people having a hard time can look forward to going to work is extremely important.”
The menu will be ever-changing, they say, depending on the season and on what they are both craving. Adaptations will also be made as they learn more about the food culture of the Valley and state of Colorado. One popular menu item is the fried chicken with a homemade green chili gravy. In the colder seasons you will see heavier classic comfort meals, Ford and Lamont explained, whereas in the warmer seasons they will be more “green and refreshing.”
Ford said he hopes that the food “reminds people of the times they spent at the dinner table with their family. A lot of the dishes here evoke that emotional aspect.” The menu defies any clear genre, incorporating recipes from different traditions. They describe the taste of their menu to be simple, seasoned and unassuming to their guests.
“It’s very simple things that are just made with a lot of love,” said Lamont. “Charles and the kitchen team are there making fresh biscuits every day, they’re making the pasta every day; all the dressings and all the sauces. One of the best comments I have gotten so far talking with guests is that everything tastes as you want it to.”
Lamont and Ford are looking forward to farmers market season along with building relationships with local ranchers. For all the delectable foods produced in the Valley, they want to provide “the pedestal they deserve.”
“The sense of support has been lovely and you can tell the folks here are just excited for everything coming down the road. We are too,” concluded Ford.
Tiny Pine Bistro is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Make a reservation at www.tinypinebistro.com or by phone at 970-340-4471.