by Larry Patrick
WALSENBURG- When times get tough, the tough get going. While it is a difficult economic time in many small towns in America, a number of business openings and renovations are going on locally.
We all know about the four million dollar investment that Hugh Brown & family has made in Walsenburg by opening First Choice Market. Since that time, numerous other businesses have opened up.
Within the past week or so, Black Dawg Pawn & Gold has opened at 511 Main Street in downtown Walsenburg. Patricia Rowe is the owner and is buying gold & silver while also operating as a pawn shop.
Rondo’s Black Derby will open this Friday at the remodeled Knight’s Inn on Hwy 160 three miles west of Walsenburg. Ron & Karen Horner are the owners. They plan to offer breakfast, lunch & dinner and provide dancing and alcoholic beverages in their bar area.
Also coming to the Walsenburg area is Chang’s Bistro serving American & Chinese Food. It will be located at the former Tes’s restaurant which suffered severe fire damage several years ago. Mr. Chang has had the interior completely refurbished and is hoping to be open in September.
Chris and Bill Reiners purchased the former Aly’s Fireside Café in downtown Walsenburg and opened two months ago. They call it Fireside Café. They serve hamburgers and other delicious sandwiches. Chris says it was a great opportunity, a great location and there was a need for additional restaurants downtown.
Just two doors down from the Fireside Café is the Museum of Friends at the corner of E. 6th & Main. The art museum is located upstairs, and Brendt Berger and Maria Cochiarelli are owners. Berger rented the downstairs space to April Moran of April’s Attic. She offers locals a large selection of furniture.
April’s Attic at W. 6th & Main recently underwent a new facelift. Moran owns the spaces that Mountain Treasures & Susan’s Flowers occupy. She painted each section a new, vibrant color to attract the attention of tourists. She says it has worked, and shoppers have mentioned stopping because of the changes.
There are more changes going on in the W. 6th Street block. Jeff & Karen Wilson of the La Plaza have opened up the patio area for dining and drinks. They now offer Happy Hour from 4 to 6 pm Tuesday through Saturday. What’s more, they are giving the front of their building a new facelift to approximate how it looked when built in the 1940’s.
In an attempt to draw more attention to downtown Walsenburg, the Wilson’s of La Plaza Inn also leased the empty lot next to Cowboy Connection from Martie Henderson and set up a hot dog stand. People can walk up, order several menu items and sit outside to enjoy the food.
Everyone who has lived in Walsenburg for a while remembers the Fallen Angel antique store on Main Street in downtown Walsenburg. It closed several years ago. Rich McEntee purchased the facility and leased the space to Marianne Smithey, the owner of Antique Avenue and Boutique Boulevard right next door. Smithey says she took on the added space to make room for additional vendors. She is calling the storefront the Antique Annex.
New business owners in Walsenburg also include Bill and Edie Flanagin. They’re the new owners of Mountain Harmony Natural Foods on W. 7th Street. It was owned for many years by Yolanda Swatko. Edie is a former Walsenburg city council member and worked with the Huerfano World Journal for over a year. She and her husband are expanding the health food store and believe that more and more people are looking for healthier alternatives. They have made numerous changes to the inside and outside of the building to enhance its look.
When there is an economic downturn in the economy, it’s an opportunity for entrepreneurial people to see things as they “could be” and make an investment for the future.
Gary M. Vezzani was elected Walsenburg’s mayor in Tuesday’s special mayoral election/recall vote. Preliminary results announced Tuesday night show that both Nick Vigil in Ward