Openings and Closings

Reconstructed Chautauqua Cafe Opening July 3 in Boulder

Located between the General Store and the restaurant, the cafe has always been an open-air concept.
Located between the General Store and the restaurant, the cafe has always been an open-air concept. The Colorado Chautauqua
In the summer months, Chautauqua in Boulder buzzes with hikers, picnickers and music lovers. The sprawling green park, miles of hiking trails in the Flatirons and weekly concerts make this a destination stop for tourists from all over the world. Every year, it attracts more than one million visitors. On July 4, the Colorado Chautauqua campus turns 124 years old, and the day before, the reconstructed Chautauqua Cafe will make its debut. The July 3 grand opening kicks off with a ribbon cutting at noon, followed by live music from the Mile High Brass Band, refreshments, and free ice cream for kids under twelve.

The cafe originally opened in 1899, the year after the Colorado Chautauqua was established, as an open-air pavilion that served "coffee, short orders and cold meats,” according to the Chautauqua website. Through funding from the City of Boulder Landmarks Board and the State Historic Fund, the original site of the cafe has been restored, with the addition of an ADA-compliant ramp.

As the park saw an increase in visitors during the pandemic, the need for additional food options arose. Using archival photos as a guide, the cafe has been rebuilt in its original location, between the General Store and the full-service, more upscale Chautauqua Dining Hall. Like the original, it is an open-air concept, making it ideal for pandemic-era dining, and its addition will help alleviate some of the traffic at the restaurant. The newly renovated cafe will serve a variety of coffee drinks, ice cream, sandwiches and salads, as well as an assortment of beverages and other light snacks.
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The pavilion at the cafe will be filled with tables and chairs.
The Colorado Chautauqua
The Chautauqua area is not just a popular destination for outdoor recreation; it also has a rich history. The Chautauqua movement, started in the late nineteenth century, was primarily focused on the pursuit of education among adults, with a goal of instilling a lifelong love of learning. For the working class, the movement provided courses in a college-like structure, with topics ranging from the sciences to the arts to public affairs. During the mid-1930s, the movement nearly died as the film industry grew in popularity along with radios and a burgeoning car culture, leading to a decrease in the pursuit of education. The cultural effects of these three factors alone were profound and generally at odds with the goals of the Chautauqua movement. Today, as lifelong learning is becoming more popular again, a kind of renaissance is occurring within Chautauqua communities, including in Colorado.
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The historic cafe with tables set up under the pavilion.
The Colorado Chautauqua
The original intent of the institution was to offer adult education through the Chautauqua Literacy and Scientific Circle. Most of the lessons revolved around art and public affairs, but today, the legacy lives on as the institute welcomes TEDx events, hosts various conventions and offers other educational opportunities, such as this year's Spaced Out event on September 11, with speakers from five local space-based organizations (Ball Aerospace, CU/Fiske Planetarium, Lockheed Martin, SwRI and PSI).

After visiting the New York Chautauqua, Teddy Roosevelt said it was "a source of positive strength and refreshment of mind and body to come to meet a typical American gathering like this — a gathering that is typically American in that it is typical of America at its best." That feeling continues today — now with more snacks to fuel the experience.

The Colorado Chautauqua is located at 900 Baseline Road in Boulder, and the cafe is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday. For more information, visit chautauqua.com/dining/the-chautauqua-cafe.
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Dustin Bailey grew up in the mountains of Colorado and began cooking in kitchens at a young age. He improved his culinary skills in a variety of food genres and then shifted his focus towards sustainable farming practices. As a farming apprentice, he was able to get the full farm-to-table experience. Now he shares his perspective through food writing and photography.
Contact: Dustin Bailey