Home cooking, community are the draw at this family restaurant in Bailey

Rustic Station is a true story of the Colorado community and its determination.

When Dennis and Lynne Griffin bought the commercial building in 2008, they didn’t know the first thing about running a restaurant. So the couple rented the amazing wood and stone building to another citizen who wanted to run a restaurant. He posted an ad in the city newspaper polling local Baileys about what might be called a mountain dinner at the bustling bridge of Interstate 285 and County Route 68. Rustic Station was chosen as a reference to the former way station for trains that take tourists from Denver to Platte Canyon’s summer resorts for guests. (You can still see the original tracks behind the restaurant in McGraw Park.)

Once that lease expired within a year, the Griffins found themselves in an awkward position. “We’ve never been in the restaurant business,” Lynn says. “We were in the car business. So [Rustic Station] “We’ll teach you how to run a restaurant,” the staff said.

And they did so with great success. As one of only three restaurants in the city, the chefs and servers of Rustic Station have worked hard to keep their jobs at Bailey. The community endeavor brought family recipes and daily home specials that kept the menu of American comforts original and modern.

Food is made to order and cooked from scratch. Rocky Mountain oysters ($12) topped with cocktail sauce and a half-pound grilled Angus burger served with guacamole, pepper jack, bacon, and freshly cooked jalapeno ($17) or western-style with cheddar, sauteed onions, peppers, bacon, and barbecue sauce ($16) ). The famous burgers are messy – each one is a two-handed ordeal with juice dripping onto the wrists – but it’s worth it.

Regulars know to order the fried chicken ribeye ($18) with pepper gravy or fish and chips ($17), and they never miss prime rib dinner on Friday and Saturday nights (starting at $25 for an eight-ounce piece) served with house garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables. The lean beef is sourced from Gold Canyon Ranch (a resource sourced from Colorado farms) and is available until desired cuts are sold.

The constant stream of summer travelers heading into the high countryside to hunt, hike, and bike keep Rustic Station’s booths and benches busy, and there’s a clear dedication to making each guest feel like family. “My staff is amazing,” Lynn says. “They are all kind-hearted. It is a small town that takes and gives here. We cannot be here without the support of our regimes.”

Adding to the communal flair and cabin ambiance in the woods, this cozy roadside refueling spot is jaw-dropping with its adorable collection of taxidermy. The Griffins run large game guided gamers on his farm in northwestern Colorado and have begun lining the walls with deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and antelope. Locals soon began to wonder if they could add to the décor and the group grew with fans of homemade turkey feathers, saddles, cowboy boots, antique snowshoes, and larger-than-life moose watching over diners. With pitchforks, wagon wheels, and saw blades, Rustic Station is like a living history museum that celebrates Colorado farm life.

“We bring the outside in,” Lynn says. “Kids really have wide eyes and it amazes them.”

No visit to Rustic Station is complete without having to mind a candy box. Reminiscent of old mom-and-pop restaurateurs, Pie Chiller serves up all the homemade classics: chocolate silk, peanut butter pie, and best-selling coconut cream pie with crust, butter, hand-rolled crust and filling rich in coconut flakes and a fluffy crown of cream. Sweet whipped topping. Not a fan of pie? There’s the three-tiered chocolate cake, and the house-made yellow Frankfurt cake with Bavarian cream and raspberry filling and white buttercream frosting.

Next time you’re driving down Interstate 285 to play in the mountains, do as the locals do and stop at Rustic Station.

1 county road. 68, Bailey, 303-838-1246

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.