Bayfield has a new option for grandma’s cooking, specialty lattes and a place to greet a neighbor: Blue Sky Cafe, the town’s newest downtown restaurant.
The cafe’s owners, Nancy Salazar and Stephanie Hubbs, have been Bayfield residents for at least 20 years. Their community relationships are ingrained in the new space on Mill Street: Friends joined the cafe staff, painted the logo on the front window and embroidered the staff aprons.
In return, Blue Sky Cafe hopes to offer the community a gathering place with affordable, “old school” food, Hubbs said.
“I just want people to have a place to go where they can sit for as long as they want to and talk to your neighbor,” Hubbs said. “That’s what Bayfield is all about, is community.”
The cafe, formerly Tuning Fork Cafe, offers a “farmhouse chic” environment with breakfast, lunch and cafe fare from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday. The restaurant opens from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday with a limited menu, she said. Every item costs $10.95 or less.
“Everything we have (on the menu) was my grandmother’s or Nancy’s grandmother’s recipe,” Hubbs said.
Hubbs, who is in charge of the recipes, said the most popular breakfast is the River Eggs, a scramble with fried tortilla chips and salsa, or Stephanie’s Breakfast, a full plate of hash browns, eggs, meats, jalapenos and homemade guacamole.
Salazar created a homemade chai recipe, and one of the cafe’s baristas, Tanya Wold, made a series of specialty lattes named after local themes: The Upper Pine, The Saul’s Creek, The Wolverine.
The meat is local – produced by Hubbs’ family on the Huntington Ranch in La Plata County. Old barn wood, which also came from Hubbs’ family, adds to the restaurant’s farmhouse-feel.
The building’s owner, Jim Sawyer; the Bayfield economic recovery coordinator, Beth Lamberson; and local businesses Solid Plumbing and K Power, among others, all helped the business come together, Hubbs said.
“This whole business was built around our friends,” Hubbs said. “These are people we already knew and worked with. It’s just been wonderful.”
The pair of first-time business owners met six years ago while working at a longstanding Bayfield restaurant, Brenda’s Old West Cafe.
“We learned a lot from her (owner Brenda Hieb) and wanted to follow in her footsteps,” Hubbs said. The main lesson: Your employees come first.
They decided they wanted to open a food truck during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when indoor dining was prohibited and waitstaff did not know what to expect from the future.
When it was clear indoor dining would return, they decided to go forward with plans to open a restaurant. Once word spread that the new cafe was opening, people were excited. Their main request was that the owners keep it a coffee shop, Hubbs said.
On the opening day, May 17, the cafe expected about 50 people to drop by.
“It ended up being almost 200,” Hubbs said. “It was crazy. We were slammed all day long.”
In addition to taking care of the recipes, Hubbs, 48, manages the kitchen, cooking, ordering and other “back of house” tasks. Salazar, 56, is in charge of the bills and waiting tables. It’s a perfect match, Hubbs said.
“I don’t like money. I don’t care about paying bills. Nancy would be happy if she never had to cook a meal,” Hubbs said.
Blue Sky Cafe employs six people in addition to the two owners. The days are long: Hubbs said she works 17 hours a day, except for Sunday when she “only works about 10 hours.”
Hubbs, who planned to cook into the evening Wednesday to get ready for the next day’s business, was simply grateful for the community’s support.
“The community has been so good to us. The Bayfield community is the best community in the world,” she said. “They have the best people.”