Sanctuary 2.0: Surrounded by the Best People

No, I’m not a Trump fan! Far from it. The Trump administration does not have the best people, but Boulder does. Prior to last week’s post, it had been a while since I posted about living in Boulder. But since my company is not moving to Broomfield (yuuuuuge sigh of relief!) and I’m staying in my adorable rental house another year, I thought I’d do a shout out post to a couple of local businesses who provide excellent customer service and make living in the People’s Republic of Boulder so awesome.

Good: California Pizza KitchenNo, this is technically not a local place but it’s on the list because local people work there and because it’s a good reminder to myself to not be such a snob sometimes. I ended up at a California Pizza Kitchen on night back in January because some big football game was on and all the places my friend and I tried to go were packed. Not wanting to keep driving from place to place to place all night to find somewhere with an open bar seat, he suggested this place because it was walkable from where we were. I made a stink about it because it was a lame chain, and I made an even bigger stink because it was practically empty while every place in town was mobbed that night, so it must have been a terrible place to go. Well, turns out it was fantastic. The bartender did an excellent job on my cocktail, the manager stopped by to see how everything was, and the food was fantastic. On top of those basics, the manager helped the bartender figure out how to make wine pairing suggestions for a food, but I felt like he did in a non-condescending way, like he was really trying to help the young man deliver excellent service. And the bartender wisely predicted that the thing I was ordering wasn’t what I thought it was going to be and he warned me so I could choose something that I would really enjoy. Well done, sir! All in all, we enjoyed our meal and conversation there very much and I would absolutely return (even though I’m still a snob about preferring to stick to local places).

Better: Color Me Mine. This place allows you to pick out pottery and paint it any way you like. You might pick out a jewelry tray, a piggy bank, a mug, a butter dish, a light switch plate, or any of three dozen other items. Around 12 of us from my company went for a bonding “women in engineering” afternoon. Now, I am not creative in this way. When I see a blank spoon rest (as I chose) and no pattern telling me what to do with it, I freeze. Having to decide what to put on it myself is stressful. I had very low expectations for what the final product was going to look like. Well, it turned out terrible. I missed the glaze in a number of places so that there are bare white spots, I messed up the lettering, and the whole thing looks unbelievably juvenile. The women who run the place felt so bad for me, that they gave me a credit for a new piece (argh, more stress!) and a voucher to waive the studio fee. I didn’t ask for this. It was offered without me saying anything. Can we talk about how smart of a customer service move that was? First of all, there were 12 of us initially, so they still made plenty of money off our group. Secondly, if I use these credits, I’m not going to go by myself. I’ll bring some friends and make girl time out it, so they’ll make money again. And they provided me a compelling customer experience that I’ve told a lot of people about and am writing about here. Very smart!

Best: Innisfree Poetry CafeI go to a biweekly writing group at this cafe. It’s the only time I go to “The Hill,” which is where college students outnumber normal humans by 10 to 1. I actually don’t have a specific experience about Innisfree to share but they are the best because week after week after week the baristas make me smile. They are perky and friendly at 8:30am every other Saturday and strike up the most unusual and interesting topics of conversation while you order. Sometimes I sit there (when I’m supposed to be writing) and listen to all the things they chat about with other customers, from parents of college kids to young men who look like they just rolled in off the farm to elderly people who have apparently never ordered anything besides a drip coffee in all their 85 years. The employees always have a way to make people feel genuinely welcome and respected as humans. And, naturally, the coffee and food are excellent, and the atmosphere is perfect for the task at hand. It is unquestionably the best coffee shop in Boulder, even though they blast the AC too high and have a weird bathroom situation that has resulted in my getting walked in on more than once. Don’t care! The people that work there are the best people.

Honorable Mentions For Establishments That Consistently Provide A Stellar Experience: The Med, Arcana, River & Woods, Kitchen Upstairs, bartaco, Good Times, F45, MECHA, Bow Tie Cafe and Spirits, and the lovely woman who cashed me out at Colorado Air Care after my emissions test. Honestly, I could go on and on and on. A bad—or even mediocre—customer experience is so rare in Boulder. It’s just the friendliest place on earth.

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So there you have it, a few of places that make Boulder great. Not great again. Just great. Boulder never stopped being great. Even on a day last week when I was battling my fourth bout of the flu this year, the wind was whipping through the streets, the sky was a frightening steel gray, and the sidewalks of Pearl Street were largely deserted already at 6pm, I was overcome by intense feeling of love for this city. Trotsky and I walked down the street, admiring the snow-sprinkled foothills rising up in the background and smiling at the animated people in the warm restaurants and coffee shops and boutiques. I couldn’t help think how absolutely wonderful it is here and how lucky I am that life brought me here.

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