"There's so many cool, magical things going on in this town," says Shauna Lee Strecker, who brought her own cool addition to the town of Lyons in 2018 when she opened Bella La Crema, a bistro that specialized in all things butter.
Before moving to Lyons, Strecker bounced between Tennessee and Colorado. For a while, she and her son lived in a home on Tennyson Street, and "we were both exposed to crystal meth," she recalls. "We got so sick, and I decided to rip our diets apart and go to all raw foods. I bought a cow share and started having raw cow's milk delivered, which led to making butter. I was so mesmerized by what live food really looked like."
It was her son who first made a spice mix that she combined with the butter, sparking the start of Bella La Crema.
After a three-year run of selling butter flights and other bistro fare, the building that housed the business was sold to chef Theo Adley (he has since opened his restaurant Marigold there). That led to the closure of "the world's first butter bar," as it has been dubbed by Strecker and several publications, including Food & Wine magazine.
Initially, Strecker, who is also a musician, went searching for a new location for Bella La Crema, but after two different deals fell through, she "took a job redoing a condo in Florida, and I was playing music still. I was doing all these things other than butter. It was a good distraction," she recalls.
Ranch House West, in a circa 1904 house at 304 Main Street in Lyons. She describes it as a "throwback tavern, speakeasy and piano bar" that hosts events like Sunday Piggies and Pancakes & PJs sing-alongs, and serves cocktails made with local booze from Spirit Hound Distillers on the weekends. "My whole intention is to bring the community together and experience something different, and to get the whole town together singing," Strecker says.
During the week, the building houses a members-only workspace (or as Strecker calls it, a work-freely speakeasy) called 304. It's also the new home of Bella La Crema, which will operate in its own space with a separate entrance. Strecker hosted her first butter pop-up there just before Christmas, "and I was floored at how much butter I sold," she says.
She's currently selling her butter on weekends, but plans to open the butter bar with regular weekday hours in February. Though it won't be a full-on restaurant like before, Bella La Crema does have a liquor license, so patrons will be able to pair butter flights with boozy drinks like hot buttered rum. It will also serve items like buttered coffee, tea cakes and charcuterie, as well as custom butter — guests can request certain flavors, and the creation will be mixed and weighed on site.
Strecker has also launched pancake kits that come with butter, maple syrup, and a mix made from all organic flours and buttermilk from the churn. She's doing a line of boozy butters for liquor stores made with Spirit Hound products as well.
There's a possibility that Colorado will soon have more butter bars, too: Stecker is in negotiations on a deal that would allow her to expand the concept to five or six outposts. "The idea is to have one main production site that can distribute to little butter bars everywhere," she says.
Although Lyons has a population of just over 2,000 people, Ranch House West, Bella La Crema and Marigold aren't the only intriguing recent additions to the small town. Latin eatery Farra debuted there in October, and a new hotel is slated to open later this year.
"I think it's a really fun time," Strecker says. "This town makes everybody want to be here."
Ranch House West and Bella La Crema are located at 304 Main Street in Lyons. Ranch House West is open from 4:30 until 9:30 p.m. (or later, depending on demand) on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Currently, Bella La Crema products are available to purchase from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit bellalacrema.com.