A year or two ago, businesses were fleeing Basalt’s Midland Avenue for Willits and online shopping, citing low visitor numbers, decreased foot traffic and a depressed shopping environment. But in the last year, excitement in Basalt has re-emerged as a handful of new businesses open up shop on Midland Avenue bringing fresh perspectives, new shopping opportunities, creativity and additional places to eat to the Mid-Valley.
Here is a smattering of the new businesses that are all in on old Town.
The Bleu Door Boutique: Unique gifts at any price range
After 20 years in the same Basalt off-Midland Avenue location, the business that operated as Hot Mama’s for 20 years has moved next door to the Midland Mall (132 Midland Avenue) and rebranded itself as the Bleu Door Boutique.
Dawn Cleveland is the sole owner of the Bleu Door in Basalt with a companion Bleu Door in Glenwood Springs and a jewelry line called Bleu Door Studio, named after the blue door entrance of the studio where she creates her jewelry.
“Bleu Door is primarily a women’s accessories and jewelry boutique, which we have branched out into a clothing and gift store,” Cleveland says.
“Pretty much anyone from 2-102 can find a gift at the Bleu Door,” says Cleveland. “In addition to our women’s accessories and gifts, we have toys and gifts for kids, handbags, handcrafted jewelry, home decor and humor gifts.”
Cleveland loves her loyal local fan base and strives to keep her inventory unique, affordable and fresh. Her main lament?
“I wish we had more local artists and art in the stores,” she says.
In addition to the Natural Life line of gifts, with positive affirmations on cups, cards and clothing, Bleu Door also carries a line of socks with mischievous sayings you don’t usually see on footwear.
Cleveland looks to the future in Basalt with a cautious optimism, having been in the Roaring Fork Valley for 24 years.
“I think there is a more affordable opportunity to start up and grow a business in downtown Basalt right now, and I’m excited about that,” she says.
The Bleu Door in Basalt is at 132 Midland Avenue; (970) 945-3070; Bleu Door in Glenwood at 313 8th Street; (970) 945-3070. Hours: 10-5, Monday-Saturday, 11-3 on Sundays. They will have extended hours during the holidays.
Mod’s Thai House: Homemade quality Thai food
Crisp, succulent duck breast in a spring roll. Flavorful yellow curry with mouth-watering spices and fresh vegetables. Fresh sauces that taste as if they come from your mother’s kitchen table. And a whole range of other Thai favorites from soups to sides to small plates entrees.
This is Mod’s Thai House, located in the small building set back from Midland Avenue where Hot Mama’s reigned for 20 years.
“There is no Mod’s Thai House without Mod,” says her husband Manny with an easy smile.
Mod was born and raised in Thailand, and she and Manny met here in the Roaring Fork Valley when she was an Aspen Skiing Company guest worker at the Sage Restaurant in Snowmass.
Manny Diaz was the head chef at Jimmy’s for 10 years, and, for seven years, he and Mod created the Thai dishes that were available at that Aspen eatery twice a year.
Now, they have their own restaurant in Basalt, and while the decor is simple in style, the food and their personalities are big.
When Hot Mama’s relocated next door to the Midland Mall, Manny and Mod moved in, installed an open kitchen so that it would be more interactive with their guests . . . and at the end of last April, Mod’s Thai House was in business.
“Since we’ve opened, we've had people drive from Aspen, Snowmass, Carbondale, even Glenwood to pick up an order to go,” says Mod with pride. “We make the food so that it is still fresh when they arrive and pick it up.”
Fresh and homemade just like Mod learned from her mother in Thailand, and in a word: tasty.
Mod’s Thai House. 132 Midland Ave, Basalt, CO 81621 (970) 279-5760 11-9. Seven days a week. Closed Tuesday for dinner. Doing brunch on Sundays. Exploring having breakfast every day.
Wren’s Nest: Making art with kids of all ages
“I just feel that art opens up so many opportunities for children: creativity, capturing those moments when they are so enthralled in what they are doing in a sense of flow,” explains Jessica Lahey, the owner of Wren’s Nest at 227 Midland Avenue in Basalt.
One of the new businesses re-energizing Midland Avenue, Wren’s Nest is an art studio for kids and adults to come and make art with repurposed cut glass (soft tumbled with no jagged edges) and an artist’s canvas.
“I was a teacher at the Basalt Middle School for 10 years, and I thought Basalt was missing a place where kids could have birthday parties and a place for them to come after school,” Lahey says. The business name was adapted from her maiden name and her daughter’s middle name.
Kids of all ages choose their canvas, either a regular or a pre-painted, then add the glass in any creative design they wish. In multiple sessions, they may paint the canvas the first session and arrange their glass design during the second session.
After they leave, Jessica and her staff add the resin, and it’s dry and ready to be framed 24 hours later.
Kids walk in off the street, spur of the moment, with an hour to kill, or they may be part of an afterschool group or local kid’s nonprofit who has planned their art excursion for weeks.
Wren’s Nest has been open since last August and is part of a group of new businesses opening on Midland Avenue.
“I love the downtown area of Basalt,” says Lahey “I really wanted to have a close proximity to the schools. Today, we have kids coming that we meet at the school and then walk them over.”
Open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays by appointment only.
(970) 927-0457. create@WrensNestArt.com