New cafe offers creative menu and drinks

By on January 30, 2013

By: MIKE REVO Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

In September 2012, the Courtyard Cafe at 349 Main St. in Denver started brewing coffee and making food from scratch. In just a few months, they have already established a base of regular customers, largely thanks to the ever-changing, creative menu and clean, comfortable atmosphere. With a good bit of effort, owner Courtney Rittenour and her staff have managed to establish a type of business that has been conspicuously absent in the Denver area.

"I grew up in Denver and since junior high I felt there was nothing in town that offered what a cafe offered — the option for people to come in, feel at home over good food and company," said Rittenour.

Her desire to fill that void in her hometown is what drives her. Ingredients for her varied menu come from local sources and are made fresh. Only the sandwich wraps and bases for several sauces are ordered in.

"I get here at five a.m., bake, and get the soups ready for the day," said Rittenour. "Later I bake in the afternoon for the evening. We go and pick out everything ourselves, so it’s time consuming, but it’s all worth it. It’s such a passion. I never feel like I work as long as I do."

The fruit is local, the bread comes from Lancaster, and Rittenour and her staff make everything from scratch — from the baked goods to the soups.

"I hope people feel a sense of a genuine environment, but it means so much to make good food," continued Rittenour.

The results of her labor are clear — whether it be small, considerate offerings like a peanut butter and banana smoothie for Elvis Presley’s birthday or peppermints that top drinks during the holiday season, it’s the details that help to establish this cafe’s identity.

Plans for the near future include complementing the Ephrata Recreation Center’s popular "Biggest Loser" program, by offering different items every week throughout its duration. These items will have detailed nutritional information, thus making it simple for someone participating in the program to track their diet.

"Our smoothies are fresh fruit puree, no added sugar or any other ingredients," added Rittenour.

Once the weather grows warmer, the cafe will include additional outdoor seating in the adjoining courtyard, which is surrounded by a small wrought-iron fence and a few well-kept trees. Until then, Rittenour is searching for musicians to perform on Friday nights and performances have been well-received.

When asked about her ambition for her business, Rittenour allows a glimpse of how she chooses to operate. Her faith is central to her venture, and of the future she simply suggests that the community can "count on us to last," she added.

"God gave me this opportunity," said Rittenour. "And I want to do this the best that I can."

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