The New Header
"An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity
in every opportunity." 
- Winston Churchill

  Ranch Foods Direct making big moves     
Owner Mike Callicrate explains future location changes    
Current store will move to 1228 E. Fillmore by end of year
 Here's the latest from Mike on the two new retail stores Ranch Foods Direct will be operating by
1228 E. Fillmore
early next year.

Q. Ranch Foods Direct will maintain its presence in the Fillmore business district but will soon move from 2901 N. El Paso into the previous home of the old Conway's Red Top and more recently The Bistro, at 1228 E. Fillmore. How will the retail space there compare to what you have now and are there any new features this new location will include?

Mike: We'll have a full service meat counter with a butcher who can cut anything you want right on site. We'll have a carcass cooler. The new building will give us 3,600-plus square feet, and although our new certified kitchen area will take up nearly half of that, we'll still be able to offer a much larger selection of produce and bulk items such as flour and dry beans - the kind of thing you normally see inside a full service health food store.

Q. Will any hot prepared foods be available on site so shoppers can grab a bite?

Yes. We'll have hot Mountain Pie Company meat pies, soups and deli items, a place for people to sit down and eat, with Colorado Coffee Merchants coffee available too. We want to provide a community gathering space that serves the neighborhood.

Town Center warehouse
Q. What will the new retail location inside the Ranch Foods Direct warehouse at 4635 Town Center be like?

It's going to be everything we have now plus a lot more. It will also have a full service meat counter. Our main processing space will be located there. The retail space will be comparable in size to our current Fillmore location. We hope to have the retail shop at Town Center open and operating by early next year.
Delicious eats match quality of coffee at friendly Fillmore shop
Chef Stephanie Lyman (right) offers freshly made breakfast and brunch at Colorado Coffee Merchants (302 E. Fillmore) Mon-through-Thurs 6 to 1 p.m. and Fridays 7 to 11 a.m. The menu changes daily but is posted each morning on Facebook (CLICK HERE.)    
"We change it up because it's fun, for us and for our regulars," she says. "It allows us to get small quantities of ingredients at a time, which lessens our food waste. We compost all of our food scraps and use recyclable containers as well."

Stephanie grew up in Casper, Wyo., where she fell in love with baking and pastries. She went to cake decorating school but wanted to do more. After studying hospitality management in Wyoming and and attending French pastry school in Chicago, she moved to the Colorado Front Range. She worked at a number of food related businesses, most recently Boonzaaijer's Bakery, where she was lead baker and baking manager.

"One day I came wondering in to Colorado Coffee Merchants to buy some espresso and told them about my candy business and they suggested I bring in some samples," she recalls. Store owner Eric Umenhofer had always wanted to serve food and quickly realized Stephanie might be the person to make it happen.

Since then, local food critics have raved about the quality and freshness of Stephanie's ever-changing rotation of made-to-order meals.

"Our idea from the start was to use everything as local and handmade as possible," she says. "We get our flour from Monte Vista (in the San Luis Valley) and all of our produce from Venetucci Farm. We grind our own flour in-house and cure our own bacon. Our butters are all made in-house. Making croissants is a three-day process. It's good whole food that you can't find anywhere else. And people really respond to that. Along Fillmore, there aren't a lot of options, except for fast food."

She caters to local businesses when buying supplies, including Mountain Mama Natural Foods, Venice Olive Oil Co., Farm Crest and of course Ranch Foods Direct. "All of our meat, eggs and cheeses come from Ranch Foods Direct," she says. "I really, really love the ground beef. I know it sounds really simple, but it's such a good quality versatile meat. Whenever we do burgers, inevitably someone will say it's the best they've had in their life. The pork belly is amazing too. We get a full slab of belly and make our own bacon or braised barbecue sliders. Any time we do anything with shredded pork, we go to Ranch Foods Direct and get a pork shoulder."

Weekly themed menus include taco variations on Tuesdays, eggs Benedict on Wednesdays, and sausage and gravy on Fridays. Stephanie also keeps up with her sideline business, Steffi's Bakery and Confections. You can see photos of her cakes and candies and find out how to place special orders by CLICKING HERE to visit her Facebook page.

Customer Snapshots   
Sarah Pont of Colorado Springs  
(shown here with daughter Laura)
HOW OFTEN DO YOU SHOP RANCH FOODS DIRECT: Whenever I'm out of meat and need some!

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A CUSTOMER: For the last three years or so

FAVORITE ITEMS: I really like the chicken and the ground beef. Interestingly I was vegetarian for 20 years, so I don't know the meat cuts all that well, but I like to go in and get their help finding something to use for various meals. Any of the beef, pork or chicken, I like it all.

ON THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE: It's great to learn something new and feel like I'm feeding my family food that is healthy and ethically raised, which is really, really important to me, and to know I'm supporting the local economy. It makes me feel good about my purchases. I feel like a lot of times I don't know what I'm getting. This way I feel like I'm doing something good for everybody across the board.

ON WHY SHE KEEPS COMING BACK: I heard Mike Callicrate speak at Ivywild School when we watched the film about Kirk Hanna and the Hanna Ranch. I really appreciated his point that even when you're buying organic or free-range meat you're still not certain where it's coming from. I feel like with Ranch Foods Direct it's a company I can trust. I know exactly what we are getting.

ON SEEKING OUT CALLICRATE BEEF IN PREPARED MEALS: It's huge to me. I'm a meat snob in that when I go out to a restaurant, I always order vegetarian unless I know the meat is ethically raised, with no antibiotics or hormones.

FAVORITE LATE FALL DISHES: I love pulled pork, which I make in the crockpot, and pot roast. My favorite right now is a brat recipe, also for the crockpot. It has brown sugar and apples, sauerkraut, onion, a little dried mustard and beer. 
Carolyn Owen of Monument 
OCCUPATION: Former group exercise instructor for the Pikes Peak YMCA; now a personal trainer

HER STORY: I've been a vegetarian since age 14, about 26 years now. But my young son was eating quickly and not eating very much, so we decided we needed to have more high caloric, nutrient dense foods in his diet, including meat. I told my husband: okay, if we do this, I'm doing it my way. I started looking for meat sources and doing my research and I found Ranch Foods Direct.

The first time I walked into the store I was literally blown away. For someone who felt like a fish out of water, they made me feel so comfortable! Everyone treated me with so much respect. One of the butchers even came out from the back and gave me a tour of the entire store. It makes me feel good to shop there; it makes me feel like I'm not going against my own ideals.

FAVORITE PRODUCTS: Fully cooked smoked diced ham; sandwich meats; buffalo cuts; chicken tenders
Elaine Doudna, gardener from the Ivywild neighborhood  
  HER STORY: I gave up a family reunion to be at Ranch Foods Direct's Poopalooza this year!

ARE YOU A POOPAPALOOZA REGULAR? No, but I've been helping out with some of the classes at Galileo Middle School (where the event was held.)

SO HOW WAS YOUR FIRST POOPAPOOZA? It was wonderful. I bought some veggies from the little market they had that day. And I got a whole pickup load of manure. It's for my garden. I wanted something that was not sprayed with a Monsanto product. You don't know what the residues are in manure even after it's gone through a cow. I do not want that in my garden. I used to get alpaca manure, until it dawned on me, there's genetically modified alfalfa now.

GARDENING APPROACH: I've started doing some lasagna gardening. You use cardboard, an organic material that biodegrades, and layer it with grass clippings or mulch and just continue to layer it. There's no need to send anything to the landfill. It's a thing. There are whole books about lasagna gardening now.

OTHER INTERESTS: I've been hearing about bone-char from my permaculture friends. I've also started thinking about making my own gelatin, by roasting some bones.
Thank you to our wonderful customers for supporting our farm-to-table business model!   

It's one of the most popular items at Ranch Foods Direct in the fall and winter...
the boneless beef chuck roast comes from Wagyu-Angus calves that are raised without any artificial growth enhancers. Just place it in the crockpot and let it cook all day. It's moist, tender and ready to serve by dinner time. CLICK THE PIC to order online.