History in the making. To me, it is easy to see the history that surrounds us, from ghost towns and generational ranches to abandoned railroads and forlorn mine shafts, all leaving traces of their memorable years. However, it isn’t as simple to look at what this valley has become today and picture the history being made for tomorrow. For one couple, discovering their passion in the food service industry and raising their family in an idyllic setting has led to their ultimate dream of being able to do what they love and thrive on the knowledge that they are making history right now.
Treeline Kitchen in Leadville is celebrating its first-year anniversary this month. For Eric Wuppermann and wife Christine Street, seeing their dream realized is partly due to the support and love they feel from the community. When I sat down with them in the lounge area of the restaurant, the newest addition to the establishment, I couldn’t help but allow their words to resonate and define for me the latest version of a Western success story. The duo’s explication of the style of hospitality Treeline Kitchen encompasses was simple but captured its true essence – a neighborhood restaurant for the entire family.
Because of an unfortunate collapse of the historic Sayer-McKee building caused by a great snowstorm four years ago, the idea to finally plant their roots for good was brought to light with the opportunity to make the Harrison Avenue space their own. You can still find the original beat-up wood beams and brick walls throughout the setting, but there is definitely a modern airiness that invites a casual hominess amid its traditional appeal.
Not only is the restaurant a family-friendly place for patrons but also a business fueled by the help and enthusiasm of their own three children. Though I immediately described the atmosphere as an understated elegance and the perfect destination for date night, Street graciously thanked me for the sentiment but commented that most evenings their children are running around the tables or trying their hand at taste-testing and offering new menu suggestions. The comfortable presence for all ages is palpable.
From a street-side porch and rooftop patio to the bar, private lounge and restaurant area, the possibilities for enjoying your dining experience are endless. Not to mention a dedicated family of staff who meet every day prior to opening the doors to reflect, educate and become even more unified on the standard of service displayed. Even with all these heartfelt touches that make Treeline Kitchen a staple of the Ark Valley, I assure you the menu speaks for itself.
While some have described the menu as quirky with unusual offerings like chicken liver pate or duck casserole, it has certainly enveloped the quintessential comfort food. And the ever-changing options definitely keep you coming back for more. Every two or three days a new menu is printed, and to my foodie heart’s delight brings not only new dishes but also renditions of already classic staples. To the surprise of both restaurateurs, even their tuna tartar and blackened cod selections are a constant hit in this high-altitude location. Personally, I find delight in the unorthodox method behind the menu; instead of providing traditional meal choices, the menu allows guests to create their own plate or serve foods family style from the abundance of main dishes and sides. Now, that’s speaking my language.
I can go on and on about my experience getting to know this husband and wife pair and their story of blazing history in the mountains of the Wild West, but for now I think I am just going to stop here and encourage you to try it yourself. You will not be disappointed. Plan an evening with someone special or bring the whole motley crew. Either way, you will leave with a satisfied palate and new friends because it is certainly hard to resist the feeling of being at home that the Treeline Kitchen achieves.