By Jennifer Pund
Allenspark has pizza! Rock Creek Tavern and Pizzeria opened in early July, but is already a hit with locals and visitors. Focusing on a simple menu of pizza, sandwiches, beer, wine and soda, mother and daughter owners, Brenda Sabo and Kassondra Kosch, are no strangers to working for themselves and have always dreamed of working together. They are excited to see what this opportunity holds. What is certain, the two treat visitors like friends and locals like family, making everything with heaping amounts of fresh ingredients, including love.
The two have always dreamed of owning a business together. “My mom and I have always had a little dream of doing something like this,” Kosch said. “We are always thinking of business ideas we can do together, so when I drove by and saw [the former Tapestry Coffee building] was for sale or lease, we inquired about it. [Mom] has 35 years experience in restaurants, it’s in her blood, so I knew I couldn’t attempt this without her.”
Kosch explained the two make good partners and just like to stay busy. “We are always just talking about it,” she said. “I don’t know if we really thought we’d really do it, but then this opportunity came up and we were like, ‘we can’t pass this up. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing.’ So we jumped on it.”
Sabo says she’s an open minded person and wanted to know more about her daughter’s idea. “I never say no to anything. Not many people get to partner with their children in a business that works. Some wouldn’t even want to try it,” she said. “We’ve always balanced each other out pretty good, we make a good team and I’ve done this before, I know what the work involves. I was already thinking about making it work before I even saw the inside of the building.”
Sabo and her husband own a construction business and vacation rental property in the Black Hills area of South Dakota. She’s spent much of the summer traveling to and from Colorado, but says it’s worth it to be in Allenspark as much as possible. “I think when you’re self-employed, your mind is never closed as what you might be able to do or what you can do. We are all entrepreneurs. I think it’s in our blood. You have it or you don’t. Some people don’t want to go out on a limb and not have the safety of a paycheck every two weeks,” Sabo said. “We all mulled it over, and have found ways to make it work. It’s just been a little tough and crazy at times, but that’s with any business.”
Kosch has two small children and her husband Jessie has owned Big Red of the Rockies Sport Shop, an apparel store in Estes Park, for close to 10 years. She said their schedules can get chaotic. “It makes life a little hectic because his business demands a lot of time of him and this demands a tremendous amount of time of me, so it’s been interesting to figure out a balance in our new adventures,” she said. “My mom is a big part of that. Lately, she has been only up there a few days and turning around and coming back down here for a couple weeks. She has spent most of the summer down here. It certainly wouldn’t have been possible without her.”
The two have been creative with the limited space in their building. They brought in a new pizza oven, draft beer coolers and soda fountain to compliment the existing equipment. The business came with a tavern license, which saved time and money, although they will only offer beer and wine at first. “We want to keep things simple because starting a new business is tough enough. If you make things complicated, it only makes it harder,” Kosch said. “[The license] is a detailed and expensive process, we were really lucky it was already in place.”
Rock Creek’s menu features small, medium and large pizzas with the usual toppings plus Canadian bacon, pineapple, jalapeños, fresh spinach, artichoke hearts and roasted garlic with gluten free crusts available. Sandwiches of turkey, chicken, ham, roast beef or veggie are offered on bread or as a wrap. Side servings of hummus and pretzels or a spinach salad with tomato and cucumber are also available. The owners say they will add menu items as they get more settled and space is available. Everything will always be made to order, and with love.
“I hope our costumers can feel I include love in everything I make,” Sabo said. “I think so, because when I am gone, they miss me.” Regulars always ask “where’s mom?,” when she’s not there. “We get a lot of repeat business from locals. It’s a place to hang out, and I think they want to support us. I think that’s really cool,” Kosch added.
The mother-daughter duo are very personable and want everyone to feel at home. “We really like people and wanted a place where people felt comfortable, can eat good food and enjoy hanging out, because there isn’t a lot up here, especially in the winter. It’s a big thing for us. We are outgoing, friendly people, and it’s important everyone feels welcome, not just the locals.” Kosch said. “Sometimes you go into a small mountain town and you feel like you are the odd man out. We don’t want people to feel that way because we rely a lot on the visitors.”
Sabo said the most important things to them are good food with good service from friendly people. “People come in all the time and say they are so glad we are here because they are happy to have a restaurant in this area, everything is so far away. I have been telling them we are glad they are here. Because if they weren’t here, we wouldn’t be here. We really appreciate them, too. We can’t do this without them.”
Check facebook for announcements about local music and open mic nights. “There is some great talent, just in Allenspark. We’ve had two music nights, and both had a good turn out,” Kosch said.
Comfortable table and chairs, warm interior décor and welcoming friendly folks are what to expect at Rock Creek Tavern and Pizzeria. With good food, cold craft beer and lively conversation, there is always a good reason to stop in.
Rock Creek Tavern and Pizzeria is located at 6 Ski Road in Allenspark. Call 303-747-9000 or visit www.rockcreektavernandpizzeria.com for information and hours.
Originally published in the October 2015 issue of the MMAC Monthly