New store provides staples, fresh produce and more
By Lynn Volkens
Emergen-C-Rations, offering grocery staples, meats, fresh produce, cleaning supplies, paper products and more, is now open in the building located directly behind the Last Shot restaurant (Highway 119). The grocery store is the latest venture of Roy and Barb Stewart. Added to the restaurant, feed store, dog park and gift shop, the area one of the fullest-service village centers in Gilpin. The new store’s name is meant to reflect its purpose – to fill in the gaps of ingredients needed unexpectedly, or maybe forgotten by local residents at their last shopping trip; to provide that one roll of toilet paper to get them through to the next shopping trip; to supply the makings of a meal or a ready-made special dessert for unanticipated guests; and, mainly, to save local residents the inconvenience, time and gasoline expense of having to go a long way for just one or two items.
“I’m not stocking this as a convenience store,” Roy emphasizes, “It’s not full of shelves of candy bars.” Instead the shelves are filled with canned soups and vegetables, condiments, bags of flour, sugar and rice, boxes of pastas – “The things you need to make a meal,” said Roy. A walk-in refrigerator holds fresh produce, not just potatoes and onions, but perishable vegetables like lettuce, and fruits. Need an avocado? Lemon? They’re here. Shop the dairy section for milk, eggs, butter, sour cream and a selection of cheeses. For dessert (or something special to serve at that Bunco party), take home a pie or cake, as well as a bag of coffee beans or a carton of sodas.
Next to the “cooler” is a walk-in freezer-Emergen-C-Ration’s meat section. “Really nice fillets of cod,” Roy points out, along with packages of “steamers” (clams). On the next shelf-boxes of black angus steak “burgers” in various sizes, hot dogs for the kids and cold cuts for sandwiches. Don’t forget the bread. Make it sourdough, wheat, rye or even Texas toast. “Good breads,” said Roy, “the same as we use in the restaurant.”
In fact, many of the items on this shop’s shelves are exactly what the Stewarts use in making the delicious food of Last Shot renown. With the added freezer and shelf space, the grocery store serves as back-up storage for the restaurant. That allows the Stewarts to order in larger quantities at a lower price and that translates to “a rational mark-up” in the store, said Roy. Some items are available only in commercial-sized quantities, but those items have a long shelf life or can be frozen for later use. Some of the specialty sauces, for example (teriyaki, barbecue, “Jamaican Jerk”) are available that way. “You won’t even find these in a regular grocery store,” Roy pointed out. Calculate price per ounce on these larger items to get a fair comparison.
One corner of the store is dedicated to household items, cleaning and laundry supplies and paper goods. In the opposite corner are bags of charcoal and barbecue supplies. Someone suggested the store have cough syrup, Roy said, so he plans to stock a limited selection of over-the-counter medicines. What won’t be found in Emergen-C-Ration’s? Cigarettes. They’re a money-maker, Roy admitted, but not something the Stewarts want to sell. Customers looking for an item that isn’t on the store’s shelf should just step inside the restaurant and talk to the barkeep. If the restaurant has it, “We’ll hook you up,” Roy promised.
Entrance to Emergen-C-Rations is just across from the upper entrance to the restaurant (near the handi-capped parking area) and clearly marked with new signs. The Stewarts have just hired a person to staff the store. Store hours are currently 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Summer hours are expected to be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Stewarts are considering building a canopied patio at the store’s entrance with seating, “maybe some rocking chairs” said Roy, envisioning a gathering place like the traditional “corner store.”
What’s next for the Last Shot center? Barb said they plan to add more parking area by tearing down the small building that currently houses a liquor store. “Seems like every year we tack on something,” Roy said. To recap: They started by expanding what had been a smaller neighborhood “café,” improving the interior space, constructing distinctive entranceways and adding more dining space, including a large deck area and picnic area outside. Then they built the Feed Store. It is open, but isn’t currently staffed full time, Roy explained. (For unstaffed times, customers can push a button at the door that activates an audio/visual intercom system. “We can see and talk to them from here the restaurant and someone will run right over,” Roy said.) Since so many customers have canine friends, the Stewarts expanded the outdoor area to include “Doggy Dining.” Along the way, they added a gift shop and now, the grocery store. “It’s stuff that we thought would help the community,” Roy said of the development. By summertime, the Stewarts will be employing around 30 people, he estimated. With each new venture, “We sometimes go backwards a little (financially) but then it all works out.” What’s their magic touch? “Work a lot,” Roy said.
(The Stewarts wouldn’t say what exactly, but coming up in May, watch for “Something to benefit the Food Bank,” Roy hinted.)