Katie Reinisch managed to keep her cool through four years at the Colorado Legislature, when she was communications director for the Senate Democrats, so it's not surprising that she's having a blast running her own frozen-yogurt spot. "It's so fun, and I'm learning so much," she says. "I'm actually creating jobs, when before we would just talk about it."
More than a dozen jobs: Before she and her husband opened the Red Mango at 2504 East Colfax Avenue on June 16, she went to the Denver Youth Job Fair, where she collected a hundred applications and interviewed many young people. "They knew how to shake my hand, look me in the eye," says Reinisch, who rewarded the city's training efforts by hiring fifteen kids -- one as young as fourteen, one as old as 24.
She needs a big staff, because this shop is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week -- and Reinisch is there much of the time. How did she get to frozen yogurt after hot times at the legislature? "We'd always wanted to own something instead of just getting a paycheck," she explains. "My husband and I had tried this new tart, healthy frozen yogurt when we were in New York and loved it; it tastes so fresh and so good, and you feel great after eating a big bowl, as opposed to a big bowl of high-fat ice cream."
Friends suggested they look at a franchise, and after exploring the options (another person has the rights to Pinkberry across Colorado, for example), they went with Red Mango. "The company held my hand, gave me manuals, gave me guidance every step of the way," says Reinisch. And after looking at malls and other possible locations, they found the perfect spot for their shop in the Lowenstein complex on East Colfax Avenue, where their landlords are the very simpatico Jill and Paul Epstein, owners of Twist & Shout. "In other yogurt shops, it's all moms in yoga pants and teenage girls," Reinisch says. "Here it's hipsters, kids, teenagers, families of all ages -- incredibly racially diverse and income-diverse."
Over the hot days of June and early July, the shop has become a neighborhood gathering spot, a place where neighbors can meet neighbors and where people pull up chairs outside as soon as the sun goes down. "It's been hard and challenging and terrific," Reinisch says. "In many ways, this is the perfect job for me. It's like hosting a party all the time."
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And if you haven't already joined the party, mark your calendar for Friday, July 20, when Red Mango will host a grand opening complete with free frozen yogurt. A version of this story first appeared in Cafe Bites, our weekly e-mail newsletter on the Denver food and drink scene that appears in inboxes every Wednesday. Find out how to subscribe here.