Down to One – Bananelope Cafe

As I write this, I’m sitting in the Starbucks at Highway 287 and Miramonte. It’s pretty much like all other Starbucks, of course. The one just happens to be closest to my house. Why am I here? Well, I couldn’t find any other coffee shops open today. I had thought we had two non-Starbucks coffee shops in Broomfield. But now I think we’re down to one.

I was in the mood to go hang out in a coffee shop for an hour or two this afternoon, catch up on some reading, and have a cold drink. My first desire was to avoid to Starbucks, of course. So I drove way out of my way to Gizzi’s. I hadn’t been there in probably a year. And when I got there, I saw they were closed. But they looked more like they were closed with a capital C, as in “Closed Forever.” I got out of the truck and peeked through the window. Sure enough, the tables and counters were all cleared out, and the shelved ripped off the walls. Bummer.

So, I drove to what I think is the only remaining independently owned coffee shop in all of Broomfield County, the Bananelope Cafe on Highway 287. It just opened a few weeks ago, sharing a building with Smokey Banana Tattoo’s new location. Unfortunately, they were closed today, too. Still in business, just taking hte day off. Bananelope and Smokey Banana are in an old auto service station. The tattoo parlor is in the part that used to be the car service bays, and the small cafe is in the part that used to be the office.

I think the place is run by a couple, with the husband/boyfriend/male running the tattoo parlor and the wife/girlfriend/female running the coffee shop. That tattoo parlor’s been around as long as I’ve been in Broomfield, now in its 3rd location. So it seems to have some good stability. I sure hope the cafe makes it, too. I’ve had some nice, short conversations with the proprietress of the cafe a few times, but have only talked to the tattoo guy once. They’re into sushi, I learned, and were planning to go get sushi that evening in Boulder.

The place has free WiFi, which, in case being independently-owned isn’t enough of a reason to visit, seals the deal over Starbucks. Starbucks has WiFi through T-Mobile, and last I checked it costs something like $8 a day, or $40 a month. But Bananelope Cafe offers it for free.

They make all the usual coffee drink variants, and offer a small selection of pastries. They also make tea, and have a decaf iced tea that’s really good. I think I’ve had it every time I’ve been in. They also have a few drinks in bottles and cans, energy drinks being the only one I remember. I suspect that’s probably popular with young customers who go in to get a tattoo and decide to get wired at the same time.

The decor is right on for a local coffee shop – lots of paintings for sale on the walls, a “take one, leave one” shelf of paperback books, and good music. I say “good music” just because they play stuff that’s not the usual afro-jazz-fusion stuff you hear at a lot of coffee shops. Last time I went to Bananelope, I think they had Tool on the stereo, or maybe it was Metallica. Unfortunately, I think they only have about 4 tables in the whole place, half of which are often used by nervous 18-year-olds about to make a permanent body modification. At times, the place can get too busy with dozens of tattoo patrons, and sometimes their kids or little brothers or whatever; that makes it less appealing as a place to just go hang out, catch up on email, and relax. But most of the time, it’s a great place to chill out.

When the King Soopers strip mall at 287 and Miramonte opened up a few years ago, there was an independent coffee shop that opened up. I remember the guy also made and sold frozen custard, which seemed like a great combination to me. Sadly, he couldn’t stay in business, and I think the place went out of business within a year. Not long after, Starbucks moved into the same strip mall, and has been here ever since. And on diagonally opposed corners of 120th and Sheridan, there used to be a Starbucks and a Peaberry. But when Peaberry went out of business, Starbucks was right there to move in. Now we have a Starbucks on opposite corners of the same intersection.

They have unnatural longevity, Starbucks. And ubiquity. They’re everywhere! And everywhere the same! I can see why Mike Doughty may have been motivated to write and record “Busting Up a Starbucks” a few years back. Imagine how bad things would be if the last independent coffee shop is driven out of business by the Starbucks machine. I guess things wouldn’t change all that much, but it would sure be a symbolic loss in the against uniformity. So support your local, independent coffee shop!

Unfortunately, from what I can tell, there’s only one place left to do that in my town – Bananelope Cafe. I sure hope you make it in the long run, Bananelope, because I don’t want Broomfield to be “down to none”.

Bananelope Cafe
1405 US Hwy 287
Broomfield, CO 80020


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