Two of Salida’s mainstay restaurants, Sweeties and the Biker and the Baker, have moved locations and now share a three-story building located on Sackett and G Street, across from the SteamPlant. The two restaurants re-opened on December 23 in the new location and have been welcomed again by the community.
The new brick building (and adjoining rehabilitated space) now includes a rooftop deck that will open once the weather gets warmer, plus two levels of indoor dining. Long known for hearty sandwiches, breads and treats, Sweeties attracts locals and visitors alike. Especially during the Decker Fire and the current pandemic, locals know they have worked tirelessly to keep people fed. The Biker and Baker also brings a unique niche to Salida, offering artistically arranged charcuterie, adult beverages and desserts to top it all off.
Owners Rob and Sarah Gartzman explained to Ark Valley Voice how the first week of business in the new location has gone, what challenges the team has faced and the support they have received from both their staff and the community as they expand their dining options.
“We have an interesting situation where we are trying to operate two businesses that are separate identities in one location. It presents different challenges but so far it is working really well,” said Rob Gartzman.
The Biker and the Baker is located in the upstairs portion of the building, offering breakfast and dinner. The lower-level hosts Sweeties and is open for lunch. Sarah Gartzman explained how “As it becomes more of a routine for people, I think they will get it more. This is the first time anyone has ever done anything like this in Salida” explained Sarah. “It’s just going to take a little bit of time and we do have everything clearly marked but it’s going to have to become a habit for most people.” The team is excited for Salidans to share in this new dining experience.
Sarah Gartzman explained that what they have essentially done is open three new restaurants (three menus) to the public for the first time. “We reopened Sweeties, we reopened breakfast at the Biker and the Baker and then we reopened dinner service all with different menus. For our staff and for us it was a little overwhelming, but I think since we’ve now done it all, we’re really proud of ourselves for making it through and providing such great service through all of this, even though it has been a little bit hectic.”
“The community has been super patient with us. We went from writing everything handwritten; all of our tickets and orders, to having everything on super fancy computers. None of our staff had used these systems before and [the systems] have been overwhelming for us to learn, but everyone has been really patient and picking things up really quickly,” said Sarah. “Overall, I have been surprised how many of our regulars have been showing up and supporting us and loving everything we’ve been doing, so that is keeping us going.”
Rob Gartzman explained the challenges of opening in a pandemic. “I would say the most challenging (aspect) is getting all the little details to come together. It so important to have everything operating together.”
He explained that having all the little elements come together and making sure they had access to the right people to help with this process was a challenge. “Figuring out what our problems are, that’s been a struggle. We’re still trying to figure out certain things that are out of our control like getting our phone service on and switched over with our phone numbers is apparently harder than it sounds.”
Sarah Gartzman added “It’s just all of the little things and I think that part of this is that half of this building is completely new and so a lot of things hadn’t been tested before. So just getting going and being open was the only way to see if all of these things worked together. We have had some challenges, but I think we had to figure out what the problems were to resolve them so that they wouldn’t happen in the future and we knew that those were going to happen. Rob and I are much more ‘let’s just do it and try it and go for it’; for us that’s the only way to learn, by doing it. That’s what we did.”
When asked what the most rewarding part of this experience has been, Sarah said, “Seeing how hard our employees have been working and how passionate they are about these restaurants and what they do has been the most gratifying thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve never been prouder of other people that are not my children, ever in my life. I just don’t think we can say enough positive things about our staff. They are the most committed, hardworking, amazing people and they’ve shown up every day through all of this.”
She continued “This climate makes it really hard to be passionate about the food industry and passionate about hospitality, but we’ve tried our best to be there for them and they’ve definitely shown up for us. It’s been really incredible to witness.”
Both say the team has worked for months to achieve this endeavor and that doing this for the community in a time when being a small business is even more challenging lies at the heart of the effort. “We listened to what people want in the community, ” explained Sarah. “They say they want breakfast. They say they want a place to be outside and drink cocktails. We’re doing this for them. We have the skills to do it but really, we’re doing it for the community to make everyone’s business better.”
She added that their goal is aligned with the Salida downtown. “To make the downtown a better place, to make Salida a better place to visit because there are so many amazing parts of it. This community doesn’t survive without good food and good atmosphere to hang out in. That’s what we’re trying to provide and we’re really listening to what the community says they want. We’re doing it for everybody.”
The two restaurants are offering dine-in with limited capacity (following COVID-19 public health guidelines), along with take out. Everything on the three menus is available as a to-go order including the full bar. They plan to implement online ordering in the future. Currently they are updating both websites, which are still accessible, but their Instagram and Facebook pages have current updates and specials. Currently the phone is down (that switchover glitch) but take out is still available by ordering in person at either restaurant.
The Biker and The Baker is open from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. seven days a week. Additionally, they are open from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Sweeties is open every day from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.