Two food- and beverage-based additions are coming to Durango’s North Main District in the next month, and both are from the people who brought Zia Taqueria to the area.
When the north Zia moved to its new location at 2977 Main Ave., it left a vacant space a couple of blocks north at 3101 Main Ave. This spot will become Sage, a fast casual restaurant featuring a rotating menu of soup, salads, sandwiches and grain bowls that are heavily focused on local agriculture, said Carly Van Hof Thomson, co-owner of both Zia and Sage.
The restaurant will operate as a sister restaurant to Zia, a distinct entity, but sharing a similar format and style.
“The concept is something we’ve been brewing and talking about for a long time,” she said.
The location, which Zia called home for 15 years, will feature six soups every day, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Sandwiches will include a handful of grilled cheeses that can be paired with soups, as well as a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which Van Hof Thomson said she is particularly excited about.
The menu will largely be based on what is in season near Durango at any given time.
“One of the things we’ve seen, and I think the local agriculture community would say the same thing, is the growing season is short in this area. And when crops come up, they’ll often have a lot of it,” Van Hof Thomson said. “It’s like, I have zucchini, and I have tons, right? And there’s only so much the local restaurants can use, right? I mean, maybe they’ve got one dish they’re featuring zucchini in and how much can they really go through. At Zia, we’ve been really heavily focused for a long time on buying local produce and buying really high volume. And this concept plans to do a similar thing, but take it a step further because we’re hoping that we can be nimble and adjust the menu and the offerings in tune to what’s coming out of the fields.”
She said that a soup restaurant is well-suited for using local produce that might not sell otherwise.
“The nice thing about soup is that you can use seconds on produce,” she said. “It doesn’t have to always look perfect, you can use a you know, a bruised tomato or zucchini or whatever.”
Van Hof Thomson said Sage will work with many of the same farms Zia has worked with, including Adobe House Farms, Fields to Plate Produce, Twin Buttes Farm and the newly established Beet Street Farm. Like Zia, Sage will get its corn from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s Bow & Arrow Farm. The restaurant is sourcing its tempeh from Luv Box Foods, another local company.
Sage will also feature a retail area where people will be able to buy items such as a quart of soup or a fresh-baked loaf of focaccia bread. Van Hof Thomson said that space will also allow local farmers to sell some of their products in the restaurant.
The restaurant is slated to open in late March.
When Zia’s new north Main location opened at 2977 Main Ave. in September, it came with a large upstairs space the restaurant has only used minimally so far. Come April 1, that space will be home to Zia Cantina – Zia’s approach to a bar, featuring local products.
The bar is a result of a partnership with Peach Street Distillery in Palisade, a sister company to Ska Brewing Co.
“They’re all about Western Slope pride and local agriculture, which completely fits in with our model,” Van Hof Thomson said.
In addition to the standard order-at-the-bar dynamic, Zia Cantina will have technology that allows customers to order and pay at their tables by scanning QR codes.
“We hope to provide a really cool venue to enjoy north Main Avenue that’s family friendly, and convenient and accessible, and yet still has kind of a fun hip bar vibe, without having to go downtown or battle the crowds there,” she said.
The space will also be available for people to rent for events such as rehearsal dinners, family reunions and the like, she said.
Van Hof Thomson said she hopes both Sage and Zia Cantina will contribute to the vibrancy of the neighborhood on north Main Avenue – an area the city has focused on for mixed-use development recently.
“I think there’s a great desire for some cool hang outs and things to do and places to eat it on in the North Main District. And we’re excited to be a part of that,” she said.