The Mudd Shack has become a routine stop for caffeine seekers
December 24, 2007
Craig — The small wooden island sits alone.
The minuteness of the building – which somewhat resembles a shed you’d find in the backyard of a neighbor – is staggering. It occupies an estimated 5-by-10 area inside an ocean of asphalt.
Outside, a stream of vehicles wait patiently, surrounding the island.
Inside, there is barely enough room for two adults to maneuver. A cappuccino machine in the corner dwarfs the surroundings.
A break in the side of the shack creates a window that slides open when beckoned by residents of Craig.
Dixie Osmun – who owns and operates the Mudd Shack in the Centennial Mall parking lot – closely resembles a bartender, but this is a watering hole of a different sort. For many, she is serving up their daily dose of caffeine – in coffee form.
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Her head pops out of the small window, a smile engulfing her face as she greets her daily routine of customers.
She serves shots of espresso, cappuccino, latte and good-ole-fashioned American coffee to her regulars.
She’s “not really a big coffee drinker,” the wife and mother of two says, and she didn’t study what she calls “coffee-ology” in college.
But coffee got ground into her.
She moved to Craig when she was in the sixth grade, staying until she was part of the first-ever graduating class of 1982 at the new Moffat County High School. She then moved to Nevada to attend college.
“I was a floral designer out of college,” she said.
“My husband thought I needed something to do, so we built this thing,” as she gestured at her drive-thru coffee shop, which was constructed in 2004.
She followed a pattern laid out to her by a friend in Nevada. The pattern weaved into what would become a profitable business for Osmun, a business she sees growing in the future.
“I’m thinking of a sit-down-type place next,” she said. “I’d like to eventually expand, not franchise. It would be nice to open another one, but we don’t want to leave this community.”
She tells tales of customers stopping by her business as they pass through Craig, on a path to however far they can go until the coffee or gas runs out. She mentions how bewildered they sometimes are when informed they are present at the one and only Mudd Shack.
“I have a woman who comes through here every so often from California, I can’t remember her name,” Osmun says, “but, she always tells me that she can’t find a Mudd Shack in all of California. She continues to keep looking for one because she loves the coffee so much, but she’ll never find one.”
As far as the locals who appreciate Osmun’s detail to a freshly brewed cup of Joe, she can’t remember their names, either. You’ll have to excuse Osmun – her memory is based on what they drink, not the name people refer to them by.
“People walk up to me and say ‘Hi,’ and I don’t remember their name,” she said. “I just say, ‘Hi Mrs. Double Mocha Mousse.’ Not too many people switch up drinks on me, so it’s been going pretty good.”
She tried her hand at a small remodeling job last year, in an effort to ease the congestion that accumulates from the vehicle traffic. She painted arrow signs on the pavement to let customers know which way to enter and which way to exit. She posted signs at eye level to make the information more visible.
The confusion ended up becoming such a constant battle for Osmun, she eventually gave up.
“I had people pulling in the wrong way all the time,” she said. “I had this blonde lady circling around the building one day for what seemed like a half hour. We still joke around here that the sign was too confusing for blondes, so we had to take it down.”
Life for Osmun hasn’t been as confusing as that incident. Besides the occasional snow falling on her head when she opens the door to greet a customer, she’s grown into a peaceful routine inside her shack.
The nationwide coffee chain boom struck Craig recently, and some residents feared the Mudd Shack might suffer because of it.
Osmun strongly disagreed.
“There were rumors out there that we were supposed to close,” she said. “I’m not the kind of person who tucks her tail and runs. We actually have more business now than before.”
Osmun prides herself in the coffee she serves to Craig residents daily.
“I get out of bed every day, and I’m the first person these people see most of the time,” she said. “I recognize their cars, which make me remember what they drink. A lot of the time I just hold my hand out the window, and the customer never even stops.”