We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Strong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Opening our business was a little different for me. I had a severe accident six months before I opened my restaurant. I lost portions of my hands and had to undergo nine surgeries. I was still in the healing process and having surgeries when we opened. I used to kick ass in a restaurant environment, and when we opened, I was lucky to pick up an empty wine glass. Opening the business was part of my healing process. It was difficult to push on with my dreams, but it gave me something to focus on besides the tragedy I lived through.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I worked for 20 years in the restaurant industry in Estes Park, waiting for the opportunity to do my own thing. I dreamed of bringing quality, locally sourced, sustainable, seasonally driven cuisine to Estes Park. After years of working for others, I found the right location. After an extensive remodel, I was able to bring a fantastic team together and create an excellent restaurant. We have created a fun environment with a great vibe at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. My electric accident in April 2017 was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to endure, survive, and recover. We opened Bird & Jim in October 2017. We were able to have two great years, and then of course, we are now surviving COVID-19. It has taught me to think on my feet to reinvent the wheel and remind me that I am a survivor, and I can get through quite a bit.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We would go definitely into Rocky Mountain National Park. One of the most beautiful places in our country. I’d probably take them on a hike to my favorite climbing area Chaos Canyon. We would spend the afternoon bouldering–rock climbing in The Park. After we would go to Elkins Distillery for a tasty drink or look for beer, we would visit Lumpy Ridge Brewery and finish the day at my favorite restaurant in Estes Park, Bird & Jim.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shout-out would be to my doctors, Ashley Ignatiuk, M.D. and Seth Tebockhorst, MS, MD–who were both at UCHealth and put everything they had into saving my hands. It’s a miracle that I have what I have and it is utterly unbelievable that I’m still able to be a rock climber.