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Meet Sarah Gartzman of The Biker & The Baker and Sweetie’s Sandwich Shop in Salida

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Gartzman.

Sarah, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve always loved being in the kitchen. Probably because I have always loved eating. I graduated culinary school in pastry arts in 2004 from the Culinary School of Rockies (now the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts) in Boulder, Colorado. After a series of jobs in the restaurant industry, some abuse, and a lot of disappointment in every position I held, I was offered an Office Manager position with the culinary school I graduated from. For the first time, I was learning, felt comfortable and safe at work. I grew into a chef instructor from there, and eventually a marketing assistant over my tenure at CSR. I learned so much and enjoyed the work I was doing there. We lived Boulder and then Denver and it felt like home. I loved that I could be part of the restaurant industry without actually setting foot in a kitchen and be worried I’d be sexually assaulted or talked down to. I felt respected for the first time in my career.

Around that time, my boyfriend, now husband, who was very into mountain biking, stumbled upon Salida. After a few camping trips to ride bikes with his buddies here, he came into the charming historic downtown and called to tell me he had to take me here, because I’d fall in love with this little mountain town. He was right. I fell in love with Salida and it immediately became our getaway destination. One late afternoon, we were walking down the street downtown and my husband saw a for large sale sign in the bakery window and yelled, “you should buy this, Sarah!” I thought nothing of it at first and brushed it all off, until Rob, my husband continued to bring it up and kept talking about what a cool opportunity this could be for us. We decided to do it together and took a leap of faith in June 2012. We got married, moved to Salida, and closed on our first restaurant, Sweetie’s Sandwich Shop.

After four years of great success at Sweetie’s and two kids together, we opened our second restaurant, Mo Burrito, a fast-casual burrito joint and bar in May of 2016 and our third, The Biker & The Baker in April of 2017. The b&b was always my dream, and we designed it to feel like you were walking into my dreams. It’s eclectic vibe and edgy food and wine pairings, feel like you’re in a Paris bar, is what many customers tell us. We serve charcuterie, wine, wine cocktails, beer, and desserts. I make about ten different desserts a week and change the menu every week to reflect the season, our lifestyle, and whatever spark of genius comes to me throughout the week. From cotton candy wrapped creme brulee to Boston cream croissants, we’ve tried thousands of desserts at this point and it never gets old or boring trying new flavor profiles or technical combinations to make for desserts. Seeing our customers faces light up when they try something special they had never thought of for dessert, keeps me going, keeps me creative, keeps me satisfied, and gives me confidence for the next menu.

Being a pastry chef and restaurateur is who I am now. I wear so many hats, all so important, but I identify as a chef first and foremost. It makes my heart happy to cook, to serve, and to create, and I feel a sense of responsibility to this community to be able to bring them delicious, upscale, and reasonably priced food. I have an incredible amount of intention and dedication to be the best chef I can be and to serve Salida the best I possibly can. Nothing beats the feeling of watching someone enjoy a dish I create for them.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Ha. Smooth road. No way. We have endured so many struggles throughout being restaurant owners. Finances, seasonal business, the birth of our children, finding quality employees, finding time for our family and our marriage, the incredible workload we bear – sometimes 80 hour weeks, no time off, having to choose work over our kids occasionally, early morning and middle of the night baking. It’s all hard. Everyday its hard. So hard.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Biker & The Baker and Sweetie’s Sandwich Shop – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
The Biker & The Baker is a high end wine and dessert bar. We make charcuterie pates in a house filled with imported meats and cheeses from all over the world and make an assortment of handmade pickled veggies and different items to go along with those plates. We bake the bread we serve with the charcuterie in house and make the butter as well. Our wine list is extensive and offers something for every kind of drinker. We also offer craft beers, ciders, and make wine cocktails, too. The showstopper for all of our guests is our dessert menu, which changes weekly and offers a variety of unique and different desserts made in house daily.

The atmosphere at The Biker & The Baker is small and intimate with seating on cozy couches in the window nooks and coffee tables to dine on. We have hanging vintage chandeliers around the dining room as well. We have limited seating, and our colorful bar with amazing wallpaper behind it makes it an instagramable moment for every guest. I am incredibly proud of the design of our space, as well as the service and quality of the food we serve. Our staff goes above and beyond to make every table a priority whether their just coming in for a quick treat in the pajamas before bed or celebrating an engagement and we take great pride in being able to suggest a wine for every occasion and every palate.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Yes! We are moving both sweetie’s and the biker & the baker to a new home hopefully this summer! (Right around the corner!) Sweeties will live on the first floor of our beautiful brand new space, and The Biker & The Baker on the second floor and rooftop deck as well. We will begin to serve brunch at the b&b and expand our menu and bar offerings. Having our two concepts in one location with a centralized kitchen will improve our restaurant so much and make it hopefully, an amazing environment for our guests. We’re looking forward to seem this next dream become a reality.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Beth Johnston, Yellow Feather Photography
Dust + Grit Co.

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