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Exterior work on six Mancos businesses underway

Fahrenheit Coffee Roasters is on Grand Avenue in a historic building that was once a gas station. Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
Owner of Fahrenheit Coffee Roasters reflects on success of business amid project

Six Mancos businesses were allotted funds from a $457,000 Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant awarded to the town to beautify its downtown, and businesses are progressing under a June 30 deadline to use the funds.

One of the six businesses, Fahrenheit Coffee Roasters, broke ground on its project, and owner Linda James reflected on her business’s growth and future.

The grant has largely helped Fahrenheit to simply finish its building, James said.

Fahrenheit had a humble start in 2006 as a coffee kiosk housed inside Zuma Natural Foods but moved to its space at 201 E. Grand Ave. in 2010, when James and her husband and co-owner, Matt Lauer, purchased a third of the building.

In 2014, they acquired the entire building but use the front third portion because the rest is unfinished.

So far, the coffee shop has excavated its porch, laid concrete for a new one and replaced two bay front windows. It will install windows around the entire building, including one to mimic the look of the preexisting garage style door. The back currently is covered with plywood. Broken windows will be fixed, and the garage doors will be winterized. A stucco job will pair with a ceiling replacement.

While exterior refurbishments are underway, interior upgrades were put on pause.

The grant provided 80% of funds and required a 20% match from business owners, and it was an opportunity James and husband and co-owner Matt Lauer couldn’t pass up, she said.

However, the strictly exterior guidelines halted James’ plans for expanding the shop’s roastery, which is inside the couple’s home.

She hopes to eventually acquire a larger roaster, transfer it to the shop and enlarge the cafe’s 11-foot living room, which has remained closed during the pandemic because it doesn’t allow for adequate spacing, James said. She also wanted to build an additional bathroom.

“My husband physically cannot roast any more beans or take on any more wholesale accounts until we get a bigger roaster,” James said.

The current roaster takes 6 pounds of beans and produces 5 pounds every 35 minutes, James said. The couple have their sights set on a 60-pound roaster.

James spoke about the business operations during COVID-19.

“We're fortunate that we have this huge porch, and so we were able to modify for COVID and keep rolling with the same venue,” she said. “We didn't have to make very many changes.”

“But most of the time, we’ve hardly actually been able to keep up,”

Maintaining output – and sufficient staff to do so – is the biggest challenge for the business, James said.

“We really appreciate the town's effort in making it happen, and Rachael really worked hard to make our town noticed with DOLA,” James said. “Our local community is amazing with their support of Fahrenheit.”

Fahrenheit’s porch is full almost every day, James said.

Other awardees include Mancos Inn and Hostel, Mancos Opera House, Bauer Bank Building, Zuma Natural Foods and Malgosa LLC.

Zuma Natural Foods and the Mancos Inn are both receiving solar panels. Zuma is installing 82 solar panels, as well as building a porch on the east side of the building. It will embellish a stretch along U.S. Highway 160 and create easier access to the community. The facade of the Mancos Opera House will be historically restored.

Senate Bill 21-252 provided for the Main Street Open for Business facade and energy improvement grant.

Rachael Marchbanks, former economic development coordinator in Mancos, and new community and economic development director in Cortez, facilitated the grants.

“I think it'll be cathartic change to the downtown ... many of them are iconic buildings that are very visible, and so I think it'll be it'll be big change,” Marchbanks said. “It'll be very noticeable by by the end of June.”