Silver Llama Market and Eatery - Interview
Updated: Apr 8, 2021
Welcome to the Leadville, CO restaurant blog series! Here is my interview with Sherry, the owner of Silver Llama Market and Eatery restaurant.
Many guests that stay at The Silver Rose of Leadville ask where they should eat when they are in town. Rather than just give a simple recommendation, I thought it would be fun to go a step further and interview local restaurant owners. The restauranteurs would get a chance to convey who they are and what makes their restaurants unique. By providing guests with more background and personal information on Leadville's restaurants perhaps choosing where to eat can be easier.
How did you end up in Leadville?
I am originally from Detroit. I came to Leadville on vacation in 2005. While on vacation, I drove over Cottonwood Pass, and while I was standing on the top of the mountain, I thought it was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen in my life. I made a plan that somehow, someway, within five years, I would be here. I got here in two years. A friend of mine had purchased a Bed and Breakfast in town and needed someone to run it. I jumped at the opportunity because I knew if I didn't, I would regret it for the rest of my life.
How did you end up in the restaurant business?
After two years, the owner realized she would make more money renting out the Bed and Breakfast as a short-term rental, so I found myself out of a job. This was in the middle of the Great Recession in 2009, and I sent out over 500 resumes trying to get a job, and I had no luck finding anything. I was really discouraged. It was a bad time looking for work. One day I was walking downtown, and I was thinking about how I had tried everything I knew to do in searching for a job, and I thought out loud, please give me a sign on what I should do. Should I go, or should I stay? At about that time, I walked past a shop on Harrison Ave. that had a For Lease sign out front, and I heard the voices in my head say, well, there is your sign. Next came a series of events that allowed me to move into the space, and I started Cookies with Altitude in November of 2009 with nine cookie recipes and a coffee pot. I quickly found out that cookies were not going to sell year-round, and I needed to expand. That year I grew into breakfast burritos and other baked goods. Over ten years at that spot, I added different things such as soups, salads, sandwiches, and lots of catering. Eventually, I outgrew that space. In 2019 I moved into the current space we have now, and I changed the name to the Silver Llama. I also added Market and Eatery to the name because I wanted people to know that we have a restaurant and a market where they can come in and buy pre-packaged desserts and meals to take home and heat up. Dinner will be ready in 20 minutes. Perfect for folks who want a meal at home without having to do any of the prep work. Some of our popular meals are a pan of lasagna, and sliders are another favorite.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I like that I can be creative. I read over restaurant menus, read food blogs, and watch food preparation shows like they have a plot. I am excited about learning new things that are food-related. I love looking at something and thinking, hey, I can do that at my restaurant. I think a lot of my customers look forward to the new things I introduce. My menu always offers new items, which is great since there are limited choices in Leadville, and I like being able to change up the menu and add new specials every month.
How did you come up with your menu?
Over the years, I learned what worked and what didn't when I had Cookies with Altitude. I researched what the competition offered since I didn't want to have the same items. I wanted to provide new and different choices. One of my differentiators was to offer grab-and-go selections. One of our popular items at Cookies with Altitude was a breakfast burrito which did quite well, so we kept that. I wanted to have a menu that would have something that would satisfy a group of people with different appetites. There is something for those who want a classic breakfast, French toast for someone who wants something sweet, and for the one who is looking for something healthier, we offer an avocado toast. Also, no one else in town has fresh bagels or eggs benedict, so I put those on the menu. However, I also wanted to put my own spin on menu items, such as the choice of breakfast greens in place of your typical potatoes.
What is your favorite dish, and what are your customers' favorite dishes?
Our eggs benedict and the avocado toast are at the top of the list of customers' favorites. One carryover from when I had Cookies with Altitude that sold well and continues to do so here is the Bacon Burrito. It is the highest-selling item on the menu. My favorite meal is no longer on the menu, but I still make it all the time for myself, and that was a tossed salad with scrambled eggs.
What is special about your restaurant?
The atmosphere here is very bright, fresh, and modern. It feels large, open, and airy, which is rare for Leadville since most of the restaurants are in older buildings that are darker and heavier décor-wise. I think the restaurant is special since it is locally owned, and it rounds out Leadville. We are different enough that it sets us apart and improves the choices available in Leadville.
What do you like to cook when you're not at the restaurant?
I like to experiment with ethnic foods. One of my favorite things to make is spinach pie or spanakopita. Coming from Detroit, a lot of our diners were Greek-influenced, and you would go out to eat, and they would have traditional Greek foods on a diner menu. There would be grape leaves and spinach pie next to burgers and chicken fingers on the menu. In Leadville, there isn't a lot of ethnic choices with food.
If you were going to open up a new restaurant in Leadville, what would it be?
I would probably open for dinner, and I would have European menu offerings. I'd have Greek, Italian, Polish, French-influenced cuisine. Again, that is just missing from Leadville.
My family agrees that The Silver Llama is one of our favorites places to go for breakfast. Everything has been delicious! I love that I can get breakfast greens with my eggs to start the day off feeling healthy. The restaurant atmosphere is very artistic and colorful. Sherry has Colorado-based artists showcase their work on the walls and often has art shows.
If you are staying at The Silver Rose of Leadville and want to eat a home-cooked meal but don't want to spend the time prepping for it, go to the Silver Llama Market and Eatery’s Facebook page to see what their take and bake at home options are for the day.
The restaurant is located at 615 Harrison Ave UNIT B, right next door to Treeline Kitchen.