Barbara Lawlor – Nederland
No, Josh Taillon does not serve Coca Cola at the Savory Cafe. When a patron craves sweet bubbles, Taillon makes his own soda fresh, a blend of mint, cinnamon, lemon, ginger, cardamom, Coriander and ginseng. His Moroccan Spice drink is fizzy delicious, spicy and refreshing. It is one of 40 flavors that Taillon has developed during his three years of managing the Savory Café.
As much as customers love the soda, it pales next to the rave reviews for his homemade bacon. He and his girlfriend Kelly Simonton say people will travel hours to taste his smoky, sweet, salty pork strips; some of them even order a rash to go. Soda and bacon are just two of the menu items that Savory clientele will miss when Josh and Kelly move back East at the end of June. After another rent hike in the shopping center, Taillon accepted the offer he wanted to refuse. He wanted to stay here, but it has become not viable financially.
On Friday afternoon, Josh and Kelly talked of their time in Nederland and the business opportunity that awaits them in New York, on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. The trip is the final segment of coming full circle, and his years in Colorado are a major part of that circle.
When Taillon graduated from high school, his father suggested he attend the Paul Smith Culinary and Forestry School in upstate New York, during which time he even studied cooking in Paris. “I have my parents to thank for giving me direction at that time.”
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In the next 12 years, after graduation, he went through a lot of kitchens, including a stay in Vail. He came to Colorado through an externship with Paul Smith, and his brother lived here. He spent two years in Vail and then five years at Q’s, a four-and-five-star rated restaurant, in the Boulderado Hotel.
During that time, Taillon often came to Nederland, enjoying the music scene, the fishing and the escape from the city. Five years ago he and Kelly Simonton met and began a life together. For two years, Taillon worked at the senior meal site, coming up with nutritional as well as delicious meals.
“They were the harshest critics I have ever dealt with. I once put a red bell pepper in a tuna casserole and one of them said, ‘If you are going to do new California cuisine, I am going to stop coming here.’ I don’t know if he was kidding or not.”
Over the years in Nederland, Taillon has given to the community as much as he could while trying to create a quality product with honesty and integrity. He makes his own bacon and his own ketchup and the best beet infused Bloody Mary with pepper infused alcohol. “I’m basically a simple guy who has evolved into organically grown cooking with the season.”
The Savory has been well attended, known for its popular theme nights, fresh pasta on Italian night and its sushi presentations, but it hasn’t all been a dream come true. Taillon has struggled financially for the last three years and now that the lease price went up, running the restaurant became too expensive and he looked into other options.
“We couldn’t catch the ski business. Eldora doesn’t care about the Nederland businesses. Why not have summer activities that include promotional deals with the restaurants and shops? I was here every day trying to make my business work. We broke even the first year and I felt like a king, but then winter came and I never caught up again. When we were busy, we didn’t have enough seating to accommodate the crowds and they went somewhere else.”
Taillon’s lease on his space in the Caribou Village Shopping Center went up to $1,950, more than he can afford. He has decided to move back to New York, and Savory owner Mike Massa has decided to sell the business.
Recently Taillon’s father emailed him saying a property owner near them was looking for a restaurant manager. The restaurant is located on a 200-acre organic farm on the St. Lawrence River. He flew out and met the owner of the three story restaurant which has been empty for three years.
The owner seemed sincere, Taillon said, and listened to his vision to utilize the organic farm and change the menu. He said there are only two restaurants in the St. Lawrence area with four colleges housing hungry college coeds. Taillon said he can get anything he needs in the nearby farm community.
Although the winters are harsh, the restaurant has a 100-foot long greenhouse to grow produce all year round. He expects to bring in the people of the community and to teach sustainability.
It will be a quick closure, and Taillon will be getting his new restaurant up and running by July 1, as daunting as it sounds. The restaurant is charming with a huge front porch, antiques and farms everywhere. “This is a year-round business that will whole heartedly encompass my career, my life.”
The couple will move into a 5,000-square-foot warehouse a mile-and-a-half down the road. It was an offer they couldn’t refuse, but their emotions are bittersweet. “We are sad about leaving the community and the people who supported and embraced us,” Taillon said. “If someone buys the business, I suggest they work it themselves and work it with integrity and love. They must also be smart about the seasonality of a business in Nederland.”
Taillon suggests that people who haven’t tasted his bacon come in the next couple Saturdays and Sundays and experience it before they go, taking the recipe with them.