Inside Business: Bird and Jim celebrates four years of success in Estes Park

This week, Estes Park’s Bird & Jim is celebrating its fourth anniversary and already has plans for expansion. The restaurant is a favorite of locals and guest alike, and will be celebrating their big day a little late out of appreciation of its employees.

“We are celebrating our four year anniversary Tuesday, Oct. 5,” said owner Melissa Strong. “We actually had our soft opening Oct. 2-3 in 2017, and opened to the public Oct. 4. After the busy weekend we just had, we decided to give our kitchen a break and celebrate on Tuesday.”

It was a different world in 2017 when Bird and Jim first opened its doors. Outside of the pre-pandemic luxuries of the time Strong remembers one thing above all, the stress. Not only the stress of watching your lifelong dreams come to fruition and hoping all the hard work, time, and money you invested pays off, but the stress of  recovering from a major injury as well.

“It was wonderful seeing the pieces of the puzzle come together after the remodel but I must say it was an incredibly stressful time. Our first restaurant, our first staff, all training and learning how to run a restaurant from scratch together,” said Strong. “I was also still recovering from a severe electric injury where I lost portions of my fingers, thumbs, and palms. I was recently out of bandages after one of the many surgeries when we opened.  I could not function at a normal level, adding more stress. And then just the stress in general of putting in tons of money and all your hopes and dreams and hoping people liked us.”

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People did indeed like them. The restaurant became a favorite of locals and guests not long after that first week back in Oct. 2017.

Strong has worked in the restaurant industry in Estes Park since 1996. She paid her dues and learned the ropes, all while imaging how she would do it herself if and when she got the chance.

“While working for others I saw and formed my dream of what I wanted to do and the restaurant I wanted to bring to Estes Park,” said Strong. “It’s not easy to follow your dreams, to roll the dice big, to put everything you have on the line, to invest all of yourself, put all of your dreams out there to public scrutiny and judgment, but I felt that our town, our community deserves new and fun things, and it has been worth the blood, sweat, fear, and tears.”

Courtesy photo

Bird and Jim restaurant in Estes Park is celebrating their Oct. 4 anniversary on Oct. 5 this year. This marks four years the restaurant has been a favorite of locals and guests alike.

After all of the hard work, and the years of planning, the Coronavirus pandemic hit American shores in 2020 and put the future of all restaurants in question. Along with many Estes Park restaurants, Bird and Jim adapted and survived.

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“I think most everyone can agree that 2020 was an incredibly challenging and traumatic year on so many levels,” Strong said. “I’m just so happy that we survived and most of Estes Park’s restaurants survived as well. Some wonderful icing on the cake is to have such a great 2021 and to see the entire town thriving.”

Now Strong and her dream are expanding across the street with a new location that will function as a restaurant and an events venue.

“We are spreading our wings and creating The Bird’s Nest—right across High Drive from Bird & Jim,” said Strong. “Downstairs is a takeaway/grab and go concept, bakery, pizzeria with a coffee shop. Upstairs will be dedicated to events, large parties, and weddings.”

Strong is aiming for a Spring 2022 opening of The Bird’s Nest, but for this week, she is happy to be celebrating four years of success in Estes Park.

“We will have a five piece band with snacks and samples to give back to the community to say thank you for supporting our dreams,” Strong said.

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