Article Sam Alviani | Photography Lauren DeFilippo
Sam Alviani, the new co-owner of the Bread Bar in Silver Plume, tells us a bit about the hot spot tucked away in the mountains.
This time of year, I’m restless. A trip to the mountains—only 45 minutes to the sleepy mining town of Silver Plume—bridges the gap between crisp fall weather and the impending cooler air at the base of the Rockies.
I’m not a bartender. Six months ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of spending so much time at a bar. I am, however, an observer of place. Place is deeply felt, and like a meter or a gauge, I felt an attachment to the space that we call Bread Bar. And it wasn’t just me. Three other people grew an attachment to Silver Plume, and when the bar—a former mining supply store, then bakery, then bitters tasting room—went up for sale, we joked about it. The fact is, it was so much more than that. It was a dream for all of us in our own ways.
Silver Plume is a sleepy whistle-stop, pleasantly eerie, a place where you creep down the roads slowly, out of some inexplicable, quiet respect for forgotten things. It is also magical, spirited with a tangible sense of history, rows of Western shop façades on Main Street, tidy Victorian houses interrupted by structures from original settlers that had fallen into disrepair—a living ghost town. At its height, the Lebanon Silver Mine brought a sweep of 2,000 miners and residents when it was first bored in the 1870s. In turn, the fortune of Silver Plume and its people fluctuated with the price of silver. As ore mining dwindled, the population mirrored its decline—in the 1960s, there were only 82 remaining residents. Today, about 150 people reside in the quaint town in the Clear Creek valley.
In less than two months, the bar came together. The timing was poor—I was away for most of the little fixes at a graduate program in Vermont, and I missed some of the essential drawing together of things that would make it what it was. From across the country, I watched as it became a real thing. Almost overnight, we became bar owners, but more than that, keepers of a slice of time warp, deeply invested in the space and the town it exists in. It was, and is, an intimidating responsibility: to become part of the backstory, and to protect the natural character of a place we were wary of disturbing.
We (I should say Rob) rebuilt the porch; Steve gutted and fixed up our tiny bathroom, while Casey figured out a way to make more room for guests. I toiled over a wallpaper choice that could subtly replace the antique flowered paper that had been up for decades. We worried over small changes, wondering if it would make the place feel overproduced. Amazingly, it still feels the same as it did when we first stepped in, long before it was ours.
Now it’s open and I see the sense of refuge it brings to people, and also, the unadulterated delight. It’s a return to something that they, like me, thought was long gone. In late July, we opened to the public, and we watch people discover it every weekend. A piece of history alive and breathing.
Many people will continue to pass exit 226, but we find that more people come out of curiosity, for the cocktails and for the company. It’s a feeling, more than anything—something you have to experience for yourself.
Bread Bar is open on Fridays from 4–10 p.m. and Saturdays from 2–10 p.m.; you can follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, @breadbarsp.