Moffat County Locals: Tammie Delaney brings together comfort, smiles, friends at Hayden’s Wild Goose at the Granary Coffee
December 23, 2017
There exists in the world places where energy comes together, creating comfort, smiles, friends — This is one of those special places.
The above quotation, from John Forgay, was written in the guestbook at Hayden's Wild Goose at the Granary Coffee, and owner Tammie Delaney says it's among her favorites, perhaps because it encapsulates the essence of why she decided to open a coffee shop in a century-old granary in the first place.
In reality, it has nothing to do with coffee or even the unconventional allure of the historic building in which the coffee is served.
Rather, it has to do with community, friendship and connection.
Delaney, a Steamboat Springs native, moved with her family to Hayden in 1994, and after spending the next few years working for a variety of community organization, she said, she happened upon a rare opportunity in the Hayden Granary.
"We leapt very much heart over mind in 2008 on the Hayden Granary," she said. "… Even though it was feed and tack store at the time, it still was very much operating as a gathering place within the community."
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At the time, she said, one of her primary motivations in tackling the granary had to do with her family.
Back then, she said, her children — Liam, now 22, and Millie, now 20 — were at the age where "they needed a job, needed to be kept busy."
And working at the granary — then a feed and tack store — fostered in them an appreciation for honest work and a myriad of valuable skills, she said.
"They grew up definitely with that small business work ethic and doing everything they could to help make things fly," Delaney said. "Now, they can do anything, drive any piece of heavy equipment. My daughter can do Quick Books and payroll.
"That experience, in those formative teenage years … was pretty amazing."
But, after four years of operating as a feed and tack store, a realization — one based on the ideas of connection and community — began to emerge, and from that realization, an idea blossomed.
"There were days when our donation jar on the coffee fund would do better than the register," she said. "So we really ran it four years too long. It was a really challenging time to be in that type of business. But the thing that we kept on seeing is that we would oftentimes be the place where people would meet each other and connect."
This, she said, led to the question from which Wild Goose Coffee would be born.
"How do we become a place that, everyday, we can introduce neighbors to neighbors? … We were kind of moved by the spirit to have a great place for people to connect and enjoy some great food and great coffee and great conversation,” she said. “It was pretty exciting."
So, in January 2013, Wild Goose Coffee officially opened, and since then, it has grown into precisely the type of incubator for human connection Delaney had envisioned.
"It's been fun, because we've seen people who've gone from very opposite perspectives come to middle ground and, in fact, appreciate each other," she said.
Delaney said she thinks a big part of Wild Goose Coffee's allure is to be found in the often-isolating prospect of living in a technologically advanced world, one where human connections are often tenuous, at best.
"What I'm finding is that, in a day and age of technology, where people like to think they're connected — either through Facebook or Instagram or that kind of thing — there is still this craving for sitting down and getting to know each other," she said. "And, oftentimes, it's putting people who are sometimes not even aware of their very different perspectives … together and watching them actually have civil conversations."
One of her greatest enjoyments, she said, is in seeing friendships forged and a community come together, often with incredible results.
"It's pretty amazing to see," she said.
In fact, she added, Wild Goose Coffee might well never have become a reality without community involvement.
"The feed store was such a challenge, and I was stubbornly trying to work harder, to do more, and kept failing bigger and bigger," she said. "So, we had to start it as a community supported coffee house, which meant we sold future shares in coffee to be able to remodel it and repurpose the space. … So, we really feel that, without the support of various community members buying their coffee for the next year or two ahead of time, there's no way we would have been able to do it."
The coffee shop — at only 700 square feet — occupies only a tiny fraction of the rambling historic granary, so the Delaneys also use its fast warehouse spaces to host community events, such as weddings, barn dances and the annual Hayden Heritage Weekend.
As Forgay observed, it's a special place.
For Delaney, it's as a way of contributing to a community she has grown to love.
"Everybody wants to have a purpose and be needed and be responsible for something beyond themselves," she said. "… It's never about you. It's always about what can you do to help improve the life of someone else. … To me, that's been the blessing of raising my family in Hayden."
"The impact an individual can make on the lives of others is pretty cool."