Female entrepreneurs revamp beloved Elk Ave building into “health optimization alley”

Three businesses move into old Donita’s space

By Kendra Walker

A building treasured by locals and visitors alike, largely because of the Donita’s Cantina Mexican restaurant that occupied it for 40 years until closing last fall, has gotten a facelift and with it a new class of businesses moving in.

Call it coincidence, but all three businesses moving into the Fourth and Elk Avenue building are founded and run by local female entrepreneurs, hoping to carry on Donita’s legacy of nourishment and community with a revamped look and a new powerhouse wave of health and wellness offerings.

Even with new additions to the façade, including new front walls, a paint job and large glass windows, the building still manages to fit in with the colorful, historic character of Elk Avenue with a new modern freshness of baby-blue pop. And the new tenants moving in manage to do the same: fit in with Crested Butte’s charm while also adding a new modern flavor to the downtown.

“I’m thoroughly impressed with the level of game that these female entrepreneurs are bringing,” said Rob Harper of Toad Property Management, who manages the building, on the three businesses moving in. “Everybody loved Donita’s, but the response has been tremendous. It’s fun and exciting to see new things go in. These businesses are going to take Elk Avenue up a whole notch.”

Native Nectar Botanicals

Jess Taylor of Native Nectar Botanicals has already settled into her corner space of the building, and Elk Avenue browsers may have already taken a stop in the new space to peruse her collection of plant-based and nature-inspired aromatherapy, skincare, bath and body products and artisan goods. “I hope it can be a welcoming refuge and self-care oasis for all who enter,” said Taylor, who founded Native Nectar in 2014, but this will be her first brick and mortar retail space. “Our core mission is to elevate your mood, create confidence in your own skin and connect you to the power of natural ingredients,” said Taylor.

Taylor also offers wellness treatments and consultations, including holistic facials and massages, having partnered with local practitioners in need of a treatment space to work with their clients. She has a couple of private treatment rooms to work with in the space.

“I want this to be a place that the community of healers and therapy can use,” she said. “There’s so much talent in this town. They can have their own practice already, but maybe they’ve struggled to find their own place or rent on their own. This will allow us to collaborate and work together to offer more styles of treatment and take on more appointments.”

In addition to her own self-care products, Taylor has brought in goods from other small businesses to round out the shop’s retail offerings. “I’ve brought in primarily female-owned handcrafted goods that are eco-friendly and small batch,” she explained. “I want the things that I carry to have a beautiful, intentional aesthetic but I also want them to be functional and effective—things people are going to hang onto for a while.”

Taylor is grateful for this next step for Native Nectar. She said, “Running an online business versus an actual store is a big leap. I’m looking forward to bringing my own style aesthetic to Elk Avenue and putting my own stamp on the community.”

The Daily Dose

Gretchen Wasinger and her café The Daily Dose have gathered recognition in recent years, having most recently shared the space with django’s. Wasinger, moving into the building’s west-side unit, will now finally have her own space and home for The Daily Dose.

“I’ve always loved my shared spaces and the amazing people I’ve gotten to work with,” said Wasinger. “But I’ve kind of been a floating butterfly and now this opportunity opened up to have my own space. I feel I will really thrive and have a space that suits me and the community. Plus, this time off has really helped me refine and redefine the Dose.”

Wasinger will continue to offer her smoothies, green drinks and coffee, noting, “Green drinks and smoothies—that’s my jam and I think that’s what going to set me apart in that block.” She also plans to expand her breakfast and lunch menu now that she has access to her own full kitchen. She said, “I plan to cater to everyone as far as special dietary food restrictions—vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, omni, meat, you name it. I’m very excited about being able to offer substitutions. It makes my job more interesting and I think the community and visitors are appreciative of that.”

Wasinger also hopes to get a liquor license and plans to utilize the space beyond smoothies and food, saying, “I see potential for the space really expanding into more community-type events in this new café and lounge. How fun it’s going to be to have a new little hot spot. It’s really fun to dream.”

Wasinger is still getting the space ready, and will soon receive her certificate of occupancy with final health and town inspections. She jokes that she’s been saying she’ll be open in “two to three weeks since June,” but anticipates the café will be ready to open in October.

The Fountain

Nestled in-between Native Nectar and The Daily Dose, the ladies of The Fountain have recently announced their plans to move into the building. Erin Sunday and Jill Grzeskiewicz will be opening a professional IV therapy and hydration clinic, including certified BioTE hormone replacement and Bemer (Bio Electro Magnetic Energy Regulation) therapy. They also hope to offer Botox treatments later down the road.

Sunday, a board-certified nurse practitioner specializing in women’s health, currently owns her own business but was looking to take it to the next level with a professional IV bar. After meeting Grzeskiewicz, a nurse at Gunnison Valley Hospital who had already successfully founded an IV hydration and wellness business in Maryland, the two realized they had the perfect combination of backgrounds to start The Fountain.

“We’re excited to be able to provide these services and much more for Gunnison Valley residents and visitors,” said Grzeskiewicz.

With their lease beginning October 1, Erin and Jill are aiming for opening The Fountain sometime in November.

Sunday shared that a big part of their decision to move into the space was the neighbors. “Our offerings will tie right into Jess and Gretchen’s whole vision. We’re going to become this health optimization alley,” she said.

To learn more about each business, visit www.nativenectarbotanicals.com, @adailydose on Facebook and www.thefountaincb.com.

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