When Winter Park Resort’s iconic Coffee and Tea Market closed in March 2020, its longtime regulars didn’t know whether the market would ever reopen again.
In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the former owners were looking to sell the business and retire after operating the beloved cafe for four decades. Recalling the hours he spent doing homework at the cafe and waiting for friends to finish their shifts, Fraser native and Middle Park High School alum Skylr Olson thought it was fate.
“It’s always been a piece of the local culture and I grew up eating their carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, so it’s always had a piece of my heart,” he said.
Olson and his wife, Laura, were looking to move back up to the Fraser Valley and fulfill their longtime goal of opening a cafe. The Olsons closed on the Coffee and Tea Market this May and are planning a grand opening next week.
“We’ve always had a dream of having a cafe or bar,” Laura said. “We met 10 years ago in Boulder at a restaurant when he was a chef and I was a server.”
Wasting no time, the Olsons got to work prepping the cozy space in the Balcony House to serve resort staff and guests again. Coffee and Tea originally opened in 1980 and, along with the Balcony House, has a rich history in Winter Park.
When longtime Coffee and Tea customers heard the market was under new ownership, the Olsons got bombarded with gratitude for keeping the spot open and requests to maintain the character of the space along with some popular menu items, such as the railyard sandwich.
“I thought about taking the wallpaper down, but the previous owner got a little teary eyed and sad when we talked about it and … it adds character,” Laura said. “We’ve heard it’s been the locals’ spot and we’re hoping to keep that crowd.”
However, Skylr said the couple also wanted to bring their own touch to the new Coffee and Tea Market, whether that be using his experience as a chef to add to the menu or featuring Laura’s teapot collection behind the bar.
“We brought on the Yakisoba salad as a play on some of our travels and some Southeast Asian flavors, fancy grilled cheese and paninis and meat pies,” Skylr said, describing some new additions.
The cafe is planning a grand opening on Nov. 19 with Winter Park scheduled to kick off the season on Nov. 17.
From then, Coffee and Tea will be open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, allowing the cafe to serve resort staff before the lifts get rolling and remain open for apres ski after they shut down for the day. Happy hour will be from 3-5 p.m. daily with drink specials.
The Olsons said that once the doors are open, they will be excited to revive Coffee and Tea’s community atmosphere while getting to know their customers.
“I’m looking forward to seeing people I haven’t seen in a long time, making people’s day with good food and coffee and being like a pillar for the community,” Skylr said.
Skylr joked that the market may have to look at some powder day hours so staff can enjoy the mountain, especially since his favorite run tempts him through the cafe’s window.
“We want to get everybody out of here for an hour or two and say, ‘Sorry, Powder Policy,’” Skylr said.