- Converting from Crazy (The Stewart family’s quest for knowledge)Thursday, November 16, 2017
Have you ever had a crazy idea come to your thought? Kind of like a fly that is pestering you? You wave it off, but also like a fly it keeps landing on you, tickling your thought until you do something about it. Well, that is what happened to me when the idea of opening a restaurant on the ranch to showcase my family’s amazing products kept coming to me after Robert and I moved back to Durango from the Bay Area seven years ago.
This WAS a crazy idea because neither of us had any experience in the restaurant business. It was at that point that we should have done research about the industry, talked to other restaurant owners (besides my little bro Justin who makes owning a restaurant look like a breeze), maybe work in a restaurant to get some basic skills, etc. Shoulda, woulda, coulda but didn’ta. We just jumped in and have been on a rollercoaster ride of our life ever since.
Well, when ANOTHER crazy idea started buzzing around to build a bricks and mortar restaurant since we are pushing our little food wagon beyond its capacity (thanks to our loyal patrons like you!), we decided this time we were going to take the time to do our research. So the expedition was planned!
Goals for the trip:
-Visit as many successful restaurants as possible.
-Speak to experienced chefs about kitchen layout, flow and efficiency.
-Discover how to attract great staff and keep them along with creating a culture that makes this tough industry desirable.
-Home school Sasha as well as have her visit places we’ve never been and discover herself along the way.
-Spend quality time together on a family adventure.
Within 10 days after we closed from summer hours:
-Tarryn (our wonderful lead cook) agreed to make soups and chili while we were gone.
-Procured a motorhome thanks to Professional Sales RV in Colleyville, TX. They were the best people on planet earth to work with because they care, are fair and give you the cell phone number of their mechanic! Thank you Ron and his employee family!
-Sasha’s homeschooling materials were organized (thank you Mrs. Mary and Miss Cait).
-And Buddy’s favorite Jolly ball was packed (along with a few hundred other items for a 2 month road trip).
First Stop, Denver!
Oops, left 6 hours later than anticipated and ended up sleeping at the rest stop in South Fork our first night in the motorhome.
Okay Denver, NOW here we come!
- Soothing Violence by Joel SalatinWednesday, May 08, 2018Joel F. Salatin is an American farmer, lecturer, and author who is now the editor of The Stockman Grass Farmer magazine. The Stockman Grass Farmer brings its readers the latest information on high profit grassland ideas from all over the world; each month profiling leading farmers and ranchers with details as to how and why they are successful. Salatin and his extended family raise livestock using holistic methods of animal husbandry, free of potentially harmful chemicals, on his Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley. He is a leader in the regenerative movement and a true mentor for hundreds of farmers and ranchers worldwide. This editorial from the May Stockman Grass Farmer speaks to our hearts as modern day grass farmers.
- Fresh Cut Flowers - A Tradition at the James RanchWednesday, February 08, 2018Fresh cut flowers have been a long-standing tradition at the Gardens at James Ranch. For over two decades Jenn and Joe Wheeling and their family have tended this wonderfully productive plot of land, supplying the Durango area not only with wonderful vegetables, but with gorgeous flowers as well. As the Wheelings move on to other pursuits, Mountain Belle Flower Farm is proud and delighted to be continuing this flower-growing legacy at the Gardens at James Ranch.
- Heather and Wayne Houk start ‘Tilted Earth Farm at James Ranch’Wednesday, February 08, 2018The 2018 growing season will be the first year that Heather and Wayne will be providing as much of the produce as possible for the James Ranch on the beautiful land that Jen and Joe Wheeling have cultivated for the past 18 years. They promise to grow the famous sugar snap peas that Jenn has shared with the community as well as a wide array of other veggies. The hope it to have almost all the lettuce, herbs, greens, carrots, beets, cucumbers, peppers, squash, onions, broccoli, pumpkins and so much more grown right here on the Ranch.
- Converting from Crazy - Ida, Ida IdahoWednesday, December 07, 2017With a new clue received from a local magazine picked up in Jackson Hole, the Stewarts are headed to Driggs, Idaho to meet a like-minded chef then head to Boise, which has been touted as a new foodie city, then up to Coeur d' Alene which is headquarters for Tractor Sodas, the Grill's new organic soft drinks.
- Converting from Crazy - The Denver/Boulder InspirationWednesday, November 17, 2017The Stewart's are on their epic research trip and stopping off first in Denver and Boulder. There are a lot of great restaurants in the area, but there are three that actually have their own farms/ranches that supply a majority of their ingredients just like the Harvest Grill. Their goal is to see the kitchens and meet with the chefs.
- Converting from Crazy - Wyoming, Detour to Utah and Back to WyomingWednesday, November 17, 2017Due to weather conditions in Jackson, the Stewarts headed a bit south to Utah and had a chance to do a meet and eat with at a restaurant that had one of their favorite kitchen layouts. They also surprised Sasha with a new addition to the family (four legged and furry).
- Farm To LunchboxWednesday, September 21, 2017Are there any other parents out there like me who groan internally with the thought of crafting a daily, nutritious, filling school lunch that your children will actually eat? I’m sure there are. I am deeply committed to feeding my family nutrient-dense foods from our farm as much as I can. So for this reason, I roll up my sleeves and do a little planning. At this time of year, there is such amazing, local food available that it is a natural fit to work some of it into your kids’ school lunch.
- Dryland Corn and Elote Con CremaWednesday, September 07, 2017Four years ago I (Cynthia) was walking through the Durango Farmer’s Market to see what I could buy for the Grill to serve. I stopped at a booth that had a corn stock that was only 4 feet high but had these large, beautiful ears of corn jetting off the sides of it. This was my first introduction to dry land corn.
- Wasps Are Friends, Not The EnemyWednesday, September 02, 2017Since I have been actively working on the ranch the last few years, I have been paying attention to the wasp populations and actively encouraging their numbers by building housing and planting more and more bushes and plants with flowers to feed them. Beneficial wasps, both predatory and parasitoid, are another way we accomplish chemical-free, organic farming.
- It Takes A Village To Feed A VillageWednesday, August 10, 2017The families of the James Ranch provide a well-rounded variety of organically grown food products for the local community: 100% grass-fed beef, artisan raw milk cheeses, pastured pork and eggs, fresh produce and flowers, and our restaurant (Harvest Grill and Greens at the James Ranch Terraces). It's a family affair and we have a lot of moving parts that come together to offer our community the freshest, most nutrient-dense food in the Four Corners. We are also proud to carry products from other local farmers! We'd love to take a second to introduce to you the current lineup of farmers that we'll be supporting and carrying at James Ranch Market and Harvest Grill.