LA GARITA — When David Lewis and his wife Jeanne became the new owners of the La Garita Trading Post in July, former owner Jerry Nusbaum had already begun to build the new kitchen at the back of the large dining area he added to the store.
Lewis and his family are originally from Shawnee, Okla. Lewis said he became tired of corporate life and decided to change direction by taking over the trading post.
With Nusbaum’s help, Lewis says he hopes to have the spacious new kitchen, all stainless steel and sparkling white tile, completed after the first of the year. The tiny kitchen area that cranked out La Garita green chile burgers for years will then become the waitress station, Lewis said.
The new kitchen will be able to better serve the crowds in the summer months that easily tax the little restaurant’s 46-seat capacity. Lewis said he is also expanding the outdoor dining area at the trading post to include more tables next year.
“Working with Bonnie and Jerry has made things really easy,” Lewis noted. “They’ve made for a great transition.” Although the trading post, a fixture in La Garita since 1913, still carries convenience store items, candy and gifts, the main focus is now the restaurant, the new owner remarked. Travelers also can gas up at the store.
The hunter business this year was up a little from last year, he reported, but the store gears down in the winter after the holidays until the spring. Lewis gestured to all the hunting pictures posted at the store and explained that the hunters love to come to the store, tell their stories and leave pictures of their trophies. Albums of their pictures kept at the store date back to the 1980s, he said.
When things warm up this spring, the trading post will resume their monthly dinner nights the third Saturday of every month that drew in such large crowds over the summer. Reservations are required for the dinner nights.
For breakfast, diners can choose the traditional egg and bacon combo with toast and hash browns, breakfast burrito, sausage and gravy, the Eddie muffin, French toast, pancakes and cinnamon rolls.
The lunch menu features a full line of hamburgers, including the La Garita burger, smothered green chile burger, crunch burger, Jalapeno popper burger, mushroom Swiss burger and a selection of sandwiches served with fries. Diners also can choose a chef’s salad or help themselves to the one-trip salad bar. Soups are served by the cup or bowl. Pies and cheesecake are among the dessert selections.
The La Garita Trading Post is open year-round from Tuesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sundays 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and is closed on Mondays. This year the restaurant also will be closed from Dec. 23 until Jan. 5 for the Christmas holidays. To reach Lewis, call 719-754-3755.