Gypsum’s newest eatery Max & Lily’s Cafe offers comfort food
GYPSUM —Located at one of the community’s highest traffic intersections and painted a cheery shade of yellow, it’s tough to miss Gypsum’s newest eatery — Max & Lily’s Cafe.
Now owners Linda Buckley and Dale Nelson want to build word of mouth enthusiasm to match their visual impact. Just two weeks after opening, they figure that effort is off to a strong start.
Max & Lily’s — located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and Valley Road, catty-corner from Eagle Valley High School — began its breakfast and lunch service on the first day of 2019. Since its Jan. 1 opening, Buckley and Nelson said more and more folks are dropping in to check out the cafe.
“We have had such a positive response from the community. It really feels good,” Nelson said.
Buckley and Nelson describe Max & Lily’s as basic American comfort food. The cafe is open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Sunday. The morning menu features classics such as pancakes, biscuits and gravy, eggs and breakfast sandwiches. At lunchtime, the offerings transition to burgers, sandwiches and salads. There are also some house specialties such as chicken potpie, veggie or meat lasagna and homemade soups and chili.
Along with its dine-in options, Max & Lily’s offers a grab-and-go service and customers can call in or order from the cafe website. While dining room service ends at 4 p.m. daily, working parents can pick up dinner on their way home because the cafe crew is still on site until roughly 6 p.m.
With its breakfast and lunch menus and its pick up options, Max & Lily’s wants to bring a different dining option to town.
“We hope were are adding to what Gypsum has to offer,” Nelson said. “We are trying to be different, not to do what other businesses are doing.”
The duo brings years of food service experience to the new venture. Buckley arrived in the valley back in 1978.
“I have been a personal chef and caterer in the valley for years and years,” Buckley said. Last summer she launched a popular food truck operation — Baked and Loaded — that featured specialty baked potatoes.
Nelson has been a local for more than two decades and since arriving in 1991, he has worked front of house jobs at a number of local restaurants. He is also a skilled fine cabinetry carpenter.
Their respective skills were all called in to play when they took over their cafe space last fall. Buckley had been using the kitchen at the restaurant to support her food truck business so she was already familiar with the space and saw its potential.
“What a little gem. What a hot spot,” Buckley said.
After signing their lease, Buckley and Nelson got to work remodeling the space as community members avidly followed their progress. The remodel turned into a 10-week project. Buckley’s brother Bernie trekked out from Pennsylvania to help and Nelson’s parents also pitched in.
“We were exhausted when we opened. But now that I am cooking, I am in my happy place,” said Buckley.
After being open for a few weeks, Buckley and Nelson say the community has embraced Max & Lily’s.
“The biscuits and gravy are flying out the door every morning,” Buckley said.
As the cafe settles in, the duo envisions the next step for the space. They aren’t planning to expand into dinner service, but rather want to open the restaurant for special event booking — church groups or book clubs or private parties. Max & Lily’s is in the process of obtaining and beer and wine liquor license so evening gatherings can include adult beverages.
But for now, the duo is dedicated to launching their brand and creating a following.
“It’s getting easier and easier, every day,” Buckley said.
And, getting back to the old real estate mantra of “location, location, location,” it’s hard to miss the fact that the cafe is open for business. The yellow paint just amplifies the visibility.
“It makes the building seem welcoming,” Nelson said. “It also has a bit of a whimsical feel.”
That sense of whimsy is also evident in the cafe name, which celebrates the owner’s canine partners. Max is a 2-year-old heeler mix adopted from the Eagle County Animal Shelter. Lily is a 12-year-old Border Collie-Australian Shepherd mix. Not only is the cafe named after the two dogs, but the business logo designed by local artist Jane Parker features their likenesses.