Editor’s note: This is part of The Know’s series, Staff Favorites. Each week we will offer our opinions on the best that Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more. We’ll also let you in on some hidden gems.
I’m not one of those coffee snobs who says friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks. I go there often, but I have grown very fond of Red Silo Coffee & Creamery in Arvada, my new favorite coffee shop.
Red Silo, 6590 Holman Street, has built a loyal following among locals since it opened four years ago in a mixed-use commercial area behind a shopping center. The unlikely location does make it a little tough to find the first time you go. “We say we’re great coffee in a terrible location,” jokes co-owner Shelley Flood.
Not really, it’s just that you don’t expect to find a coffee shop there. I was determined to find it, though, because I have friends in Arvada who are fans. One visit was enough for me to understand why.
Red Silo is special for many reasons, not the least of which is great coffee. It sources beans carefully from around the world and roasts them on site. It has a much better selection of syrup flavors (12, five of them sugar-free) than Starbucks (which only has one sugar-free offering). It offers 11 flavors of ice cream, all of which are made on site, as is an assortment of dreamy fresh pastries. Don’t judge me, I go there after burning plenty of calories on my Saturday morning runs.
The customer service is great, and not by accident. Flood says they want the place to feel like Cheers, the fictional Boston bar in a popular series that was must-see TV from 1982-93.
“We want to be where everyone knows your name,” Flood said. “We insist that every customer is greeted the minute they walk in the door, that we make eye contact and we’re smiling, that we ask them how their day is. We have so few opportunities in this life to make people feel special. These kids have the opportunity to make people feel special.”
The success of Red Silo in just four years has been remarkable. Initially Flood and co-owner Greg Pierce thought it would primarily serve workers employed at the other businesses in the commercial complex where it is located.
‘When we opened, we really expected that it was going to just be a small little campus coffee shop,” Flood said. “We didn’t expect the community to embrace this the way it did. It was the old, ‘They told two friends and then they told two people.’ We got on Nextdoor early on, and somebody (wrote), ‘I want to tell you guys about this but I don’t, because it’s going to get crowded.’ Month over month our sales grew; it was crazy.”
Then, a year and a half after it opened, COVID hit. Fortunately the owners were already working to implement an online ordering system, so when the lockdown came, they were in a position to stay open.
COVID did cause a temporary drop in business, but it motivated the owners to develop additional menu options for afternoon customers. That’s how the creamery started. They make all of their ice cream from scratch.
“If it’s Bananas Foster ice cream, we make Bananas Foster and we put the Bananas Foster in with the vanilla ice cream,” Flood said. “We bake the brownies in house that go into the espresso brownie ice cream.”
Now, Red Silo is expanding. In September the owners acquired an old Starbucks space in the heart of downtown Golden on Washington Street, and they are hoping to open that location by Dec. 1. They’ve also bought land a half-mile north of the current location with plans to build a larger establishment that will be more accessible for commuters on nearby Indiana Street. They hope to break ground early in 2023.
“We’ll have a big, beautiful new café, hopefully, with a drive-through and a nice big patio with a view of the mountains,” Flood said. “That’s the plan.”
I can’t wait.
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