We've always been pretty cranky about the lack of Colorado-centric food items at Denver International Airport -- especially Colorado-centric food items that visitors can take back home as souvenirs from this state. But that will soon change: Provenzano Resources, which is in charge of adding fourteen kiosks and 24 RMUs (a fancy term for carts, or retail merchandising units) at DIA next month, has put a couple of locals in the mix.
Wystone's World Teas, which sells teas and snacks and holds classes at its brick-and-mortar spot in Belmar, is one of the new airport vendors. Hammond's Candies, the venerable Denver-based confectioner, will also be there. And then there's Climax Jerky -- a true Colorado success story.
Brooke Comai had been managing a restaurant when she decided selling jerky from a scenic roadside stand might be more fun. She got her start -- and the ultimate name of her company -- selling jerky outside the Climax mine on the road to Leadville. "I made more money than I did working forty hours a week at a restaurant," she remembers. "That's where I started twelve years ago, and we're still up there."
But along the way, she bought the Kremmling distributor that used to supply her with jerky, and she now has five people making jerky for her, using everything from elk to buffalo (alligator was not a big hit). And her company is in a lot of other places, too, with one retail location by the outlet stores at Silverthorne and one in downtown Breckenridge -- both in covered wagons. Climax also sells its jerky at farmers' markets in Golden, Cherry Creek and by City Park, and the company wholesales to some small stores, mostly in the mountains. Her husband, Jonathan, joined the business in 2005, and orders have doubled since then. "That's all we do," she says.
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She's looking forward to selling Climax jerky at the airport, but is a little disappointed that she can't get an RMU shaped like a covered wagon. But at least the label proves it's a Colorado product.
"They were exactly the type of merchants we were looking for," says Irene Pierpoint of Provenzano, which held a job fair for the new kiosks and carts Monday. "I wish they could all be Colorado brands."
And we just wish that Provenzano would figure out how to sell Colorado craft beers at one of those kiosks. "Beer and jerky," muses Comai. "You couldn't ask for anything better..."