By Jennifer Pund
After a year of ups and downs, Stagestop Market and Café owner Megan Riley is back to doing what she enjoys most: nourishing people with goodies baked with love. Stop in the Rollinsville store daily in March, leading up to the official anniversary on March 29, from 6 a.m. to
4 p.m. to help her celebrate her first year success and enjoy specials and giveaways.
Armed with new equipment, family recipes and the support of locals, Riley is now ready to take on the future with enthusiasm and a noticeable passion for her work.
When approached with the idea of buying and running the Stagestop Market and Cafe in late March 2014, Riley found herself saying, “I’ll do it!” At the time, she had a partner, and lots of plans. Abruptly, the partner didn’t work out and after a few weeks, her plans were not approved. Even with coffee shop and commissary licenses, the local health department ruled she had to bake everything in-house and couldn’t continue to use the Stage Stop restaurant’s kitchen across the street.
“It was working well for me,” Stage Stop restaurant owner Heather Hatwan said, “but the health department said she couldn’t use my kitchen.”
A year ago, she didn’t think she was going to make it, and for months wasn’t sure if the business would survive. “When you start, you really have no idea and I kind of just stumbled through,” Riley said. Winning over the locals was a top priority. “It was my intention to serve the locals. If I could make it with them, I would be able to make it,” she said.
Surviving the winter by selling consignment items and gifts, she worked toward securing the proper approvals step by step. She had the water tested and found it was unusable. Since last October, she has had to truck in water to serve her coffee and hot chocolate.
She also installed a new water heater, salvaged a three bay sink from Estes Park, added a refrigerator and an oven. “I went all out and did the whole thing, now I have my restaurant license,” she said. “It’s huge for me to get back and get up at 5 a.m. and think, ‘what am I going to make.’” Riley said that by 7 a.m. each day, there should be the smell of something baking.
Although it’s a family tradition, Riley never dreamed she would be baking for a living. “For a long time I put away anything domestic,” she said. “I was going to be a lawyer and I was going to do all this stuff, then I just kinda started to go back through family recipes.” Her curiosity sparked a passion. “It’s all old stuff and I love it. This is my creative expression.”
When she uses the index cards labeled by her grandmother, “G” for good or “VG” for very good, she feels a connection with the past. “I found this old quote that says, ‘Every time I’m in the kitchen, I’m surrounded by generations before me,’ and I really do feel that. I feel that I am surrounded by Great Aunt Mickey with her lemon bars, and all these women before me,” she explained. “It’s a way for me to connect. It’s what I do, I nourish people. I want to take care of people. That’s why I say it’s made with love, because it really is.”
Holding true to her feeling that everything you put in your mouth should make your eyes roll back, she serves breakfast sandwiches, croissants and gluten-free items including pizza.
She always has a supply of treats like chocolate chip or sugar cookies, Mountain Turtle cake—with or without bacon pieces—goat cheese cheesecake, cupcakes and whatever else she is inspired to try that morning. The only coffee shop in the area to serve “bulletproof” style, the café uses beans from The Coffee Roaster, delivered within hours of being locally roasted.
Anniversary specials include Bulletproof week, March 1-7. Try a bulletproof coffee for $1 off. March 8-13 is Cheesecake week. Try cheesecake for $1 off. Enjoy special baked good during Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland, March 13-15 and St. Paddy’s Day specials and baked goods on March 17. It’s Carrot Cake Week March 18-25. Get carrot cake for $3. Finally, on March 29, watch for anniversary giveaways and specials.
The Stagestop Market & Café is located at 41 Main St. in Rollinsville. Call 303-258-3151 or visit facebook.com/stagestop.market.cafe
Originally published in the March 2015 issue of the MMAC Monthly