Business’s disaster benefits community |

Business’s disaster benefits community

Colorado Meat Company owner/butcher Chris Hudgens didn't expect to have to fire up his smoker Wednesday. But that's what he did after the compressor to the shop's cooler was stolen. Hudgens donated a lot of the meat, then cooked a bunch to give away as samples. The brand-new business is expected to re-open next week.

AVON — Life handed lemons to Chris and Brittany Hudgens Wednesday. So they fired up the grill and the smoker.

The Hudgens own the Colorado Meat Company, which opened just Monday in Beaver Creek Plaza — across the street to the west of City Market. The business opened Monday, but almost before the “open” sign was hung in the window, the compressor to the shop’s cooler was stolen. That theft left thousands of dollars worth of high quality organic, grass-fed beef and pork slowly warming.

So, Chris Hudgens decided to do what he could. He donated a bunch of meat to the Bright Future Foundation, sent some over to Nottingham Park to cook up and give away at the evening’s free concert, then brought around his party-sized smoker grill and started cooking in the parking lot. The air soon filled with the aroma of burgers, brisket, sausages and pork loin sizzling and smoking.

A sign out front offered free samples, which were eagerly devoured by a steady crowd throughout Wednesday afternoon. With a bit of luck, those samplers will become customers — the meat is delicious.

But those future customers will have to wait a few days to make their first purchases. Hudgens said the new cooler compressor won’t be installed until Aug. 26.

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Until then, the Hudgens are putting a pleasant face into the teeth of adversity.

“We’re just trying to turn a bad situation into something positive,” Hudgens said.

Colorado Meat Company doesn’t have a freezer — they’re in the fresh meat business. Hudgens said the plan all along was to donate meat to the Salvation Army as it neared its sell-by date. The local non-profit was in line for an early donation Wednesday.

“Whatever we don’t serve here today is going to (the Salvation Army),” Hudgens said late Wednesday afternoon. “I’m actually going to go call now.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, or @scottnmiller.

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