Success Stories

Grampa’s Gourmet Honey

Brent Edelen is a sixth generation beekeeper and a fourth generation domestic beekeeper. He was recently telling Donna Wehe (Small Business Development Center, 589-3682) about how his family ended up here in the Valley: “My great grandfather, Edward Haefeli, passed through Elis Island around the turn of the former century. On his way from Switzerland, he had come to America to seek work and medical help for Tuberculosis. He made his way to Illinois, where he had family, but found the high humidity of the area aggravated his T.B. He continued west towards California. While crossing the Rockies he found the high dry mountain air helped this condition considerably. He eventually settled in the San Luis Valley.”

Today Brent manages about 500 colonies of bees. They have two brand names for their company: Grampa’s Gourmet and Simply Honey. They strive to produce real varietal honey for real people and educate people. They bring a quality honey product to the market. I asked them if there is a difference between locally produced hone and something commercially produced. Brent replied, “You have to be careful and understand the source. Sometimes when you buy honey in the store you do not know exactly what you are getting. I have been in business in Alamosa now for about 10 years, selling honey exclusively wholesale and at various venues. This year, through acts of fate, we opened a retail location. The store is not just to sell honey, but rather to help educate. The popularity of bees has exploded, and our goal is to provide a platform where people can come and learn about honey, bees, and most importantly heritage, sustainability, and showcase what makes the SLV so special.” A story about Brent’s business ran in the Cooking Light magazine in August, 2012. For more information or to order their products online, go to

At Brent’s location in east Alamosa (across from the Southway Crane, one mile east of the bridge), Karen Lemke will be using part of the building to offer Honey Lab Workshops, where participants can make their own beeswax lip balm, candles, cooking techniques and much more. Email Karen at to get a list of classes.

The SBDC and Consultant Esteban Salazar have been guiding Brent in the new retail venture, with assistance from marketing to sales tax and much more. In fact, Esteban is going to be working there part time, so stop by and greet Brent and his crew at their open house. The open house is scheduled for July 5th (free sopapillas & honey samples) and 6th (free barbecue). The regular hours are Wednesday-Friday, 8:00 – 6:00 and Saturday & Sunday 10:00-4:00. They can be reached at (719) 588-5863.

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Smoothy’s Juice Bar

Do you remember hearing your mom mentioning to always eat your greens?

On June 8, 2013, Smoothyʼs Juice Bar opened in Alamosa on 504 West Ave. (Corner of Hwy 285 and 160), Smoothyʼs Juice Bar offers an easy way for you to incorporate your daily intake of greens through tasty smoothies. Donna Chappell decided to open this business mainly for the health of the people. She feels because of her experience of owning and managing the Healthy Living Shoppe (also in Alamosa), that she knows the community and what they are asking and looking for, to stay healthy.

Smoothyʼs Juice Bar offers green and fruit smoothies, wraps, spinach salad, ice cream, milk shakes, coffee and baked goodies. Donna also uses the juice pulp to create a popular carrot cake that has no refined sugar. Another asset is the drive thru on the south side of the building for people on the go or if you have called in an order.

Since opening her retail business, Donna has been working with the Small Business Development Center (589-3682) and was encouraged and supported with the many challenges that face new business owners.

Donnaʼs goals for the future are to keep educating people on the value of smoothies and how easy it is to incorporate them into your life. A basic green smoothie consists of OJ, apple juice, spinach, choice of fruit or banana, but you can also make your own with one fruit, one juice and one green. Donna now also offers, Orange Smoothieus with vanilla ice cream and fresh oranges. Plus, there are specialties smoothies such as peach almond, blueberry nut and coffee almond breakfast.

Her biggest challenge is just getting the word out that Smoothyʼs Juice Bar is open. Satisfied customers may be her best advertisement as Donna is already receiving positive feedback.

Donna said, “One of my employees lost 13 pounds in two months drinking green smoothies every morning. It was a gradual loss but now she watches her food intake more, doesn’t crave sweets as much and feels so much better. Now she wonʼt go without her smoothie every morning and is feeding her grandbabies, husband, and daughter green smoothies as well.”

Smoothyʼs Juice Bar is open: Monday -Friday 7 am – 7pm, Sunday 10 am – 6 pm.

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Kaffe Kaffe

If coffee is a part of your daily grind, then you will enjoy a cup at Kaffé Kaffé, opening July twenty eighth at the Green Spot on State Ave in Alamosa. K2 or Kaffé Kaffé is a comfy coffee nook that offers gourmet Arabica organic coffee. Swing on by for a $1.20 cup of direct trade, organic Haitian coffee and meet the man behind Kaffé Kaffé, Ralph Symbleme. Ralph an entrepreneur of many talents, is a wholesale distributor of Café Selecto Coffee and K2 will be where you can buy a cup or a bag of his delicious coffee. The Café will have a low carbon footprint, K2 boasts hand crank coffee grinders and the French Press brewing technique. K2 brews all its coffee with San Luis Valley Artesian water, which enhances the experience of the rich smooth Cocoa notes of Café Selecto. Kaffé Kaffé will carry locally baked cakes in eco-friendly packaging. Kaffé Kaffé will also host the various enterprises that are Symbleme Services, LLC ; so come on in and chat with Ralph over a cup of Joe about office space leasing at the Carver House or get a quote on window cleaning or chimney sweeping . Ralph also offers his expertise on vintage bicycle repairs and sales, a compliment to the Green Spot’s Antique store , in addition K2 intends to host local artists work and performing musicians in what will be called “Sessions on State”. Ralph Symbleme, owner/ operator of Kaffé Kaffé has dedicated many years of volunteer service to the greater San Luis Valley community, including time with the San Luis Food Bank, marketing with the Fort Garland Band Jam. Ralph is a serving board member of Alamosa Historical Preservation board & a member of the friends of the arts of Costilla county. Drop by K2 for a distinctly fresh coffee experience.

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