Up next: Village Coffee Shop (Boulder, CO)
The Village Coffee Shop has been a part of its community for nearly 50 years, offering affordable, award-winning food. Several local publications have declared Village Coffee Shop as one of the best breakfast restaurants in Boulder.
Boulder, Colorado may be “America’s Foodiest Town,” according to Bon Appetit magazine, but Village Coffee Shop receives awards like “Best Place to Eat Breakfast in Last Night’s Clothes,” “Best Breakfast for the Slightly Hungover,” and is listed in “America’s Best Hole-in-the Wall Diners”.
My name is Shanna Henkel and my big, bald husband, Ryan, and I own this little, 49 year old diner. I was a waitress for the original owner for 7 years and when he wanted to retire, he offered to sell it to us. I was finishing my sociology degree and felt passionately that this tiny restaurant fulfilled a critical role in our community. We have staff who stay for decades, which enables us all to build truly lasting relationships with our customers. I’m in my 24th year here, Fiona has more seniority than I do and Chuy’s 35 years old and has worked here since he was 15. This is the only job he’s ever had.
Boulder is a sunny, pretty town, nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It used to be a town full of hippie Deadheads. They’re still here, but they’ve been overrun by the tech start-ups, IPO money, and an influx of wealthy Californians and Texans. Gentrification has stamped out a lot of Boulder's previous eccentricity, but the Village Coffee Shop is one last place without pretense. Locals often call Boulder “twenty square miles, surrounded by reality.” At the Village Coffee Shop, our motto is that we are “890 square feet of reality, surrounded by Boulder.”
Our mission is building authentic relationships through serving generous portions of delicious, inexpensive food. We love to welcome everyone and offer five different breakfasts priced at $3.25 or less in a town with a median home price that well exceeds a million dollars. Construction workers, snow plow drivers, doctors, lawyers, students and parents all love us. We’re affordable, accessible and fast.
Building community is our specialty. Village Coffee Shop has sponsored many sports teams, arts programs and a variety of different kinds of outreach programs, including supporting homeless youth. We’ve volunteer-coached over 40 youth soccer teams, hosted 10 annual fundraisers for the local free, public bi-lingual school and hosted fundraisers for Meals on Wheels and other local charities.
Both Boulder HIgh School and the University of Colorado are just up the street. Photos of athletes adorn our walls, but we also adore musicians, actors and singers. Members of the marching band come in before home football games and we frequently lead the entire restaurant in singing the CU Fight Song, often multiple times throughout the day.
For four full months of the last year we were totally shut down to indoor dining per a state Covid mandate, and the other months we’ve been legally limited to 10-25% of our old capacity. Unfortunately, our rent doesn’t change even when we can’t have indoor diners. If we could receive funding for rent assistance for even 6 months, it would enable us to keep our doors open so that we can keep slinging affordable breakfasts to all of Boulder and building the authentic relationships that we all crave just as much as our nationally award-winning pancakes.