(Editor’s note: This story originally ran in the June 11, 2009, edition of the Creston Valley Advance.)
Buffalo Trails Coffee House certainly isn’t the only place to eat lunch in Creston — but if you want to eat buffalo for lunch, it’s your best bet. After all, the owners also operate Duck Lake Bison Farm in Wynndel, and offer the meat they raised at the restaurant.
“We always do a buffalo soup of the day or buffalo chili, or an alternative soup with the buffalo roast sandwich,” said Michele Staggs, who runs both businesses with her husband, Chad. “And we sell our buffalo through here.”
In addition to serving locally raised bison, locally roasted coffee from Dewey Roastem and Howe is one of the primary features on Buffalo Trails’ menu, used in specialty coffee drinks both hot and cold.
While the downturn in the economy may have stopped others from opening a new coffee shop, Staggs felt that it was a safe thing to do when the restaurant opened its doors on Dec. 2, 2008.
“People still drink coffee,” she said. “They’re not really going to cut out going for coffee with a friend because it’s an inexpensive thing to do.”
Her logic paid off — Buffalo Trails often has several seats filled, and is usually bustling at lunchtime.
“Our menu is small, but we have all these sandwiches that people love,” she said. “There is limited stuff, but you can mix and match, so it does have a bigger capacity.”
In addition to the roast bison, the sandwiches on the menu include a grilled turkey-artichoke and a chicken club — the latter with a spicy chipotle mayo. Baking is also popular, with more than half a dozen muffins, squares and giant cookies available daily. Light breakfasts are also offered at Buffalo Trails, which is open seven days a week, filling a weekend niche in downtown Creston.
“There are so many places that aren’t open on the weekend here, so there’s nowhere to go,” she said. If having a restaurant open seven days a week sounds like a lot of work, it is — but Staggs has turned it into family affair, employing her three children so she doesn’t miss out on spending time with them.
Of course, those hours seem like nothing compared to the business Staggs and her husband ran in Sexsmith, Alta. In addition to an art supply store that she opened after college, the couple owned a convenience store that was open from 6 a.m.-midnight.
“We had a full hot food service there,” Staggs said. “We made over 100 subs a day, chicken, pizzas — everything. We had 14 employees there.”
Seven years ago, they moved to Wynndel after buying a strawberry farm, which they operated for a couple of years before bringing bison to the valley.
Staggs enjoys running Buffalo Trails because it offers her a chance to spend quality time with her favourite aspect of the business — the customers.
“I like the regulars that come in all the time,” she said. “There are some really fun people in town that just hang out and do the coffee scene.”
And although Buffalo Trails is the new kid on the restaurant block, Staggs is happy to have some excellent lunchtime competition from other establishments — on a whole, they serve to make Creston’s commercial core a more lively place.
“I like all the restaurants,” she said. “I really do. I think ‘the more, the merrier’ down here, to get a better vibe downtown.”