Phil Castle, The Business Times
It’s a coffee shop. It’s a frozen yogurt place. It’s a breakfast and lunch restaurant.
It’s all of the above and more, according to Savannah Tompkins, who’s combined in one Grand Junction location two businesses that serve a variety of beverages and foods.
It’s a merger born out of the necessity in the aftermath the coronavirus pandemic, but one Tompkins believes differentiates her operation and will enable the venture to grow. “It’s unique. It’s a one-stop shop.”
Tompkins operates Mountain Grind Coffee and Sugar and Ice Co. The businesses are located in Suite 104 at 905 North Ave. and on the first-floor retail space of Lucero Hall on the Colorado Mesa University campus.
Before the onset of the pandemic earlier this year, Tompkins operated Mountain Grind Coffee and Yogo Mojos yogurt shop in separate spaces in the building.
Tompkins said restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic forced her to close Yogo Mojos. She said she tried curbside delivery with Mountain Grind Coffee, but couldn’t make that operation work.
Moreover, when CMU switched to online classes during the spring semester because of the pandemic, the students and professors who constituted a big portion of her customer base were no longer on campus, Tompkins said. “It was just a ghost town.”
Tompkins opted to temporarily close the businesses. “It was really scary and hard,” she said. The worst part, she said, was laying off employees, many of whom had worked for her for years.
Tompkins also opted to combine her operations in one location to reduce her lease, remodel the interior and rebrand the business as Sugar & Ice Co.
The new operation, which opened in late July, serves specialty coffees as well as frozen yogurts with an assortment of toppings, hard scooped ice creams and shaved ice. The shop also serves breakfast and lunch fare, including pastries and paninis.
The menu includes what Tompkins said is another popular specialty in cold brew floats made with cold-brewed coffee, ice cream and shaved ice. “It’s the best thing ever.”
That’s not to mention ice cream tacos and, as a result, ice cream taco Tuesdays.
In addition, Sugar & Ice Co. offers sugar- and gluten-free and low carb options, including keto beverages and keto cookies.
Ingredients are obtained from local sources to the greatest extent possible, Tompkins said.
Along with the fare, Tompkins said she wants to offer a fun environment for families on outings, couples on date nights and students on study breaks.
Sugar & Ice Co. features a rotating exhibit of artwork for sale by local artists. The photography of Joshua Scott will be displayed through September.
Since her business has reopened, CMU has returned to in-person instruction and students and professors have returned to campus, Tompkins said she’s hoping for more normal operations. ”Having the CMU kids back has been a great thing to see.”
Tompkins said she’s drawn on her industry experience in adapting to the pandemic and changing business conditions. She helped open the first Starbucks location in Grand Junction and also managed a Starbucks location in Oregon. She launched Mountain Grind Coffee a decade ago with a drive-thru operation in Parachute.
Her work ethic and what she described as an entrepreneurial heart also has helped in persevering, she said.
It’s advice she’s sometimes asked to share with business students at CMU. “You can do this. You can accomplish things in life.”
Mountain Grind Coffee and the Sugar & Ice. Co. operates from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. For more information, visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sugarandicecogj.