Durango Artisan Foods has escaped cramped quarters on Colorado Highway 3 and is now enjoying elbow room in a kitchen double its old size.
The additional space has allowed the craft food maker to expand its retail sales after moving to the 3100 block of north Main Avenue, in a location formerly occupied by The Yellow Carrot.
Mark Grubis, who owns Durango Artisan Foods with his wife, Kara, said the purchase of O’Hara’s Jams and Jellies, in December 2018, put the business on an accelerated growth path.
Added space for Durango Artisan Foods, which makes small-batch products such as salsas, hot sauces, barbecue sauces, mustards, jams, jellies and spice blends, will also allow it to rent its kitchen, refrigeration space and freezer space to other small craft-food producers.
“There’s a lot of demand for commercial kitchen space in Durango, especially with refrigeration and freezer space,” Grubis said. “We started out cooking at the fairgrounds, and we know how hard it is. You have to work around their schedule and you have to plan out everything perfectly.”
Rental of the kitchen will be $18 an hour, with additional charges for use of other equipment and refrigeration and freezer space.
Durango Artisan Foods’ first product, Habanero Hot Sauce, was based on a recipe the couple had tweaked for years trying to capture the flavors of the Caribbean, where they were married.
They mulled going into business for years before going forward and opening DAF about a year ago.
“Typically, our dinners are experiments,” Grubis said. “Last week, we were sampling salsas. Our friends enjoy being guinea pigs.”
A recent partnership with Ska Brewing Co. has led to two of DAF’s latest products, True Blonde Honey Mustard and Mexican Logger Jalapeno Hot Sauce.
In the works, for release in the next month or so, are Buster Nut Brown Maple Mustard and Pin Stripe Salsa.
DAF also makes a Steamworks Backside Stout Mustard.
Added visibility on north Main has already helped foot traffic. Grubis said signs are not yet up, but already, DAF is seeing daily foot traffic equal to what the old location saw in a week.
Down the road, Grubis said DAF plans to add a takeout breakfast burrito and perhaps a takeout lunch offering.
Currently, the company has two employees, Alysa Zion, who had worked for 12 years at O’Hara’s Jams and Jellies, and Orion Olin, who joined DAF in the past year.
Plans are to hire additional employees when takeout breakfast burritos and lunch items are added and to handle retail shifts in the expanded store.
Additional employees would free up Grubis’ time to work on new recipes for future products.
“There’s almost a never-ending list of products we’d like to bring to the market,” he said.