We had the good fortune of connecting with Alayna Alariana and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alayna, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Opening a coffee shop had always been my “next career” Retirement plan. After 30 years in the hospitality industry as an Event Planner, traveling the world, creating events for some of the top companies and associations in the world, I decided to take this next career step about 10 years earlier than I had planned. My son was a pre teen and I wanted to be involved in a more day to day. My experience with top chefs, caterers and restaurants gave me a huge amount of experience and knowledge for my coffee shop. Decor and experiences was also an asset. With what our nation is dealing with currently, I believe there had to have been some divine invention. I look at it now and wonder how my son and I would have faired if I had not made that decision.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have a love of coffee and am a total foodie. In my past life (career), I worked with some of the top caterers and chefs and worked on menus and experiences for my clients. Success for executing exceptional events was in always paying attention to the smallest details in presentation, food, security, decor, proactively seeing any challenges, and making sure that there was always that wow experience for our clients and guests. This was invaluable to me for my business. Food and Beverage must temp the eyes, not just the palate. I wanted a casual but also upscale environment so no matter who my customer was, they would feel comforted by the feel of the shop. I actually can’t believe it is all real! I have always spoke about one day having a small town coffee shop when I was ready to retire from the corporate world. Sometimes it felt soo far away and maybe just a dream. I think my biggest challenge is I am not a classically schooled baker or chef, though I love to do both. I have always been able to taste or see a dish and figure it out for myself. I have taken classes by some incredible chefs over the years and am a nerdy recipe hunter in my spare time. I have thousands of recipes saved for that one day I would have a coffee shop. I like wholesome, good for you, foods and I make sure everything I make/bake and serve would be something I feel good about. No high fructose corn syrups. I use real flavors, exceptional coffee, housemade soups, sandwiches, pastries and breads. I utilize recipes from my life, and my family and I am always rotating and adding new items to my menu. We are a small community, so I want to keep it fun and tasty all the time. I am a sole owner, single mom to my son. We have a nearby ranch where we raise our own chickens for our eggs that is used in our breakfast menu and pastry. I try to use local produce, dairy and meat where ever I can. We have plans for expansion this year which is so exciting. I also love getting involved in the community and lifting up my fellow businesses. By helping them and bringing more exciting businesses and attractions to Chama, we all win.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My Favorite local spots to take guests and family is the Cumbres Toltec Railroad in the summer. It takes guests to see some of the most beautiful mountain scenery on the New Mexico/Colorado Border. When booking the first and second class train cars, guests actually get to try our pastries as we supply fresh baked pastries that are included in the admission ticket. There are several hiking spots I love to recommend that are easy for any casual hiker. Plus we have the Continental Divide trail close by. We have soo many lakes for day trips and fishing it is very popular here.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Shoutout is to the Chama, New Mexico Community and local businesses. They have been so supportive from the beginning. I always laugh and say “it’s because I am the local caffeine dealer”.
Linkedin: Alayna Alariana
Yelp: Rio Chama Espresso