Terroir closes in Longmont, but its owners keep cooking

Fans were shocked and saddened when Terroir, a much-lauded farm-to-table restaurant on Longmont's Main Street, closed after five fruitful years. "It's definitely bittersweet," says Tim Payne, who ran the restaurant with his wife, Melissa Newell, and manned the line as executive chef.

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"This last year was our best year by far," says Payne. In fact, Terroir had been doing better year by year, he adds. So the restaurant's closing wasn't prompted by any lack of business.

Instead, the lease on Terroir's location in Old Town was up, and the landlord's terms didn't jibe with the couple's vision. "When you get to the end of your lease, you've got to decide what you want to do," Payne explains. He and Newell shopped around Longmont, Fort Collins and Denver, but couldn't bring themselves to outfit a new space with expensive kitchen equipment all over again. And so they decided that Terroir would close at the end of August -- and they would move on. But they gave employees and customers alike plenty of notice: "We wouldn't be one of those restaurants where you show up and there's a sign on the door," Payne says.

Allthough Payne sees the closing an opportunity for the couple to "step back," they're not resting on their laurels. Newell just started as a manager at Olivea. Payne is working with Sweet Pea Catering and also showcasing his locally sourced cuisine at farm-to-table dinners with the Feast Supper Club, which will hold its first event on Halloween. He's also working as a line cook at Trillium, honing his craft with chef Ryan Leinonen.

Terroir leaves quite a legacy -- not just in Longmont, but along the Front Range. It was the first Longmont restaurant to become part of Denver Restaurant Week: "We got crushed," Payne remembers with a laugh. Along with Sugarbeet, it was also one of the only true gourmet, seasonal restaurants in town. "We were both firm believers in spreading the word about eating healthy... eating organically," Payne says of the couple.

And they had loyal fans as a result. Regulars often packed the restaurant; Payne says some locals dined there over a hundred times. Now they're left with with fond memories of Terroir's ever-changing menus, its weekly wine dinners, Payne's farm-to-table cooking classes...and five years of great food.

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