Keep It Local: The Train Cars

As you drive through Holland on the Peak to Peak Highway, you can’t help but notice the bright red cab on 101 Highway 119. The closer you get to The Train Cars, the more it reveals itself to you. First notice that it’s not just a caboose, but three train cars curiously arranged at the entrance to the Caribou Village Shopping Center; and then notice an “Open” neon sign.

The Train Cars has operated in the Netherlands for several decades as not only an attraction of early 1900s American ingenuity, but as a cafe serving coffee and frozen yogurt that, as a business, embodies the same innovative spirit. Lately, locals and visitors alike have been approaching the front door steps, peering into the windows, wondering about her fate; and on Monday, August 1, 2022, The Train Cars reopened its doors for a grand re-opening.

“I’ve worked in various types of food service most of my working life, with a few exceptions,” said Jesse Fox, the new owner and operator of The Train Cars. Mali-Veshi. “I came to Colorado from Vermont in 2009 and climbed the mountains in late 2012.”

Fox, who has worked as an employee of The Train Cars since 2014, spoke about how his purchase of the business was unexpected and yet perfectly timed.

“I didn’t see it as an actual possibility until it happened. I never really thought about it because I didn’t have any of my ducks in a row and I didn’t have the down payment for an investment,” Fox said. “Then Jim, the previous owner, had expressed interest in changing who he was. at the top of the note and at that point I was really willing to make that commitment. Up until that point, it was all just surreal.”

Fox purchased The Train Cars business from Patrick Saenz, who took over from Jim Graves on September 10, 2021. Graves owned and operated The Train Cars for seven years after purchasing the business from the Guercio family.

“Jim was a great boss; I learned almost everything I know about this country from him,” Fox said of one of his industry mentors. “He really created this place to do the best he can in this situation. I believe we can do a little bit more, but for the most part when I took the position, I really wanted to bring it back to what he was doing because it worked.”

With the inside knowledge of what makes The Train Cars not only a Dutch product, but a successful one, Fox is confident in running his business, especially with a dedicated staff.

“I couldn’t do that without the staff coming back on board and coming down to give it their all.” Everyone is fully committed to the revamp of The Train Cars. I have six full-time staff members and I couldn’t be happier, they are the best.”

The creative cafe consists of three historic train carriages; a 1906 Pullman Coach dining car, an 1872 Union Pacific Railroad mail car and a 1910 cabin that survived the 1965 South Platte Flood.

The mail car, which later served as an advanced advertising car for the Sells-Floto Circus and was later donated to the Netherlands by Denver Post, now there’s a quaint sitting room to enjoy a leisurely morning chai latte. This space has been used for live poetry readings and events in the past, which Fox plans to bring back in the near future.

The 1906 Pullman Coach dining car was retired by the Colorado & Southern Railroad in 1970 and moved to Holland in 1975. The dining car still operates as originally intended, serving customers caffeinated beverages, sandwiches and freshly made donuts filled with powdered sugar, chocolate, caramel and whipped cream (with an option for additional sprinkles).

“I like to be in different capacities when I can, but I like being a barista. I love serving my customers and making them happy with their morning coffee,” explained Fox. “I got the basics of my barista skills from Peter at New Moon; I worked there for about a year before I came to the train cars. A good part of the fine-tuning of those barista skills came from Kristy, who was the best barista here at the time.”

Customers can enjoy their food with a view of the mountains while sitting in the colorful sunlight that pours through the stained glass windows that line the vaulted ceiling, which itself is decorated with intricate red fabric. The polished wooden walls of the dining car are also decorated with art by local Dutch artists.

“We will expand the menu in time. We just need to make sure everything is stable before we get more, but I’ve got some ideas!” Fox stood just outside The Train Cars as his son squirmed and waited for our interview to end. As Fox explained a bit about his plans for the future of The Train Cars, his son made a serendipitous revelation.

“Stay tuned, we’ve got some big things coming,” Fox said. “We have some live music, some events… and during this interview my son found a four-leaf clover, so I think things are looking pretty good!”

Come and enjoy live music from Black Dog in the courtyard of The Train Cars on Saturday afternoon, 13 August 2022.

The Train Cars is located at 101 Highway119 in Holland and is open Monday to Thursday from 7am to 5pm and Friday to Sunday from 7am to 6pm Follow The Train Cars Coffee on Facebook for more information and special event announcements: m. facebook.com/Thetraincars/

Sponsored by the Town of Nederland, with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

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