Biz Buzz: Dec. 2, 2012

Miguel and Blanca Gutierrez knew they wanted to create a second location within a couple of years of opening Aztecas Family Mexican Restaurant, 603 U.S. Highway 50, the day after Christmas in 2005.

The restaurant’s authentic Mexican food and warm atmosphere fostered a loyal customer base, and diners consistently inquired as to when another location might open closer to their homes. The couple looked into various sites in the Grand Valley and Montrose but, for a variety of reasons, never settled on one.

Until now.

A second Aztecas will open this month at 2516 Broadway, the site formerly occupied by Las 2 Margaritas. It’s located in the Redlands Marketplace, a shopping center anchored by Albertsons.

“Thanks to (our customers), we are doing this,” Blanca said.

The Gutierrezes haven’t set in stone an opening date, though they hope it’ll be around Dec. 10.

They liked the site before Las 2 Margaritas moved in in 2008, but the lease price was too high. The recession knocked it down to a figure they could afford.

The Gutierrezes made it clear they will maintain the Orchard Mesa location — “This place has our heart here. We will never close this place, I hope,” Blanca said — while adding breakfast to the menu at the new restaurant. Aztecas’ breakfast lineup will feature a combination of classic American fare such as omelettes, pancakes and biscuits and traditional Mexican dishes such as huevos rancheros and chilaquiles.

Miguel began working in a Mexican restaurant in Seattle in 1989 and has worked just about every job in the industry. He still fills in as a cook or dishwasher from time to time. Blanca joined him at the Seattle restaurant a few years later. The owner told them they should open their own restaurant.

They moved to Grand Junction in 1999 but, unable to find work, quickly returned to Washington. They grew attached to the valley in their short time here, however, so after saving some money, they came back a few years later.

Aztecas on the Redlands will open for breakfast at 7 a.m. every day. Like the Orchard Mesa location, it will stay open until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

■ As they suspect others have done, Kent Diemer and Suzanne Bjorge have driven Monument Road countless times and thought a small storefront near the Broadway intersection would make a great location for a coffeehouse.

So the Grand Junction husband and wife made it happen.

Laughing Dog Coffee House opened at 413 Monument Road on Black Friday, just in time to give hard-core shoppers a caffeine jolt.

The former location of the Great Scents gift shop now offers coffee from Pagosa Mountain Coffee Roasters in Pagosa Springs, drinks such as teas and Italian sodas, a variety of pastries from local bakers and wraps from Wraps on Main.

The focus, though, is on the coffee.

“What we’re looking for is better-tasting coffee,” said Diemer, noting that while he and his wife have both owned businesses previously, this is their first venture into a coffee shop.

Diemer and Bjorge have opened up the business — and its commercial kitchen — to bakers and pastry chefs who have their food-handler’s cards and speciality creations but no place to make or sell them.

Diemer said they liked the location not only because there is no other coffee shop on the east end of the Redlands, but because it’s convenient for hikers and bikers.

“Things are going excellent,” he said of the first week of business. “We’re not overwhelmed with traffic yet, but we don’t want to be overwhelmed with traffic yet. We want to offer good coffee and good service.”

Laughing Dog is open 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

■ Need the inside of your home or office painted and unable to afford it or do it yourself? SunShine Painting may offer its services to you for free or at a deeply discounted rate.

For the fourth year, the Grand Junction business at 202 North Ave., Suite 176, is offering its “Paint it Forward” charity event. Last year, SunShine Painting donated 160 hours to complete interior painting projects for the Center for Independence, the Tree House, the House, the Parenting Place and private homes where newly disabled family members needed modifications.

This year, the business will select four to eight groups or individuals and donate up to $1,000 in labor and materials per project. The projects will be completed in December, January or February.

To fill out a nomination form, visit and click on the “Paint it Forward” tab. Nominations are due by Dec. 15.

Do you know about an area business opening, closing, moving or changing? Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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