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Meet Cheryl Pankonien

Written by Anne Vickstrom on .

Inside the doors of EverBean by the Lake, there are mugs of warm coffees, delectable baked goods, aromatic home-cooked breakfast and lunch items, and even a collection of mountain-themed gifts. But what most people don’t see when they go inside this favorite gathering place across from Evergreen Lake is the hard work, community-minded care and most especially, a dream that really did come true.

Cheryl Pankonien and her husband Alan, after trying to acquire a business in Montrose, purchased Caffe di Lucca, a favorite spot among locals. “Two days after we closed [on the purchase], the Montrose business offered us their business.” Evergreen lucked out – Cheryl became a part of our community.

The opportunity in Montrose was ownership of the Dairy Queen. Cheryl knew the ropes in that franchise. Originally from Salida, “I worked at the Dairy Queen in Greeley for four years, and then I moved to Colorado Springs to live with a high school friend. My goal was to get a job in nutrition, but I couldn’t find anything, so I worked for Dairy Queen there, too.” She had quickly worked into management positions and ended up working at the mall Dairy Queen for 17 years. “I was laid off in 2009, due to the economy.” Through those years she learned how to run a shop. She mastered the tasks of management, ordering food and supplies, complying with health laws, hiring, and working with the public.

They moved to Evergreen from Colorado Springs, with the idea that they could run their own business. “We moved in with Alan’s dad; it was supposed to be a temporary situation.” Instead, they bought a new house and while Cheryl is busy taking care of her loyal patrons, and Alan is busy taking care of property management at Lakepoint, supplies at EverBean and taking care of the books, Alan’s dad takes care of Gus, their yellow lab, at home. “It has worked out really well.”

Soon after buying the coffee shop located in the middle of the retail strip, the end unit became available. “We knew we wanted to have the patio, but we had to work really hard,” said Cheryl. “Going through the permitting process, working with designers and tradesman – it was a lot of work. We were lucky to have a designer who could help us through the process down at Jeffco. All the work made it ours. I love how people move the furniture around out there. People can bring their dogs.…”

They added soup and ice cream to the menu, along with a wide range of Panini’s. However, they wanted to keep a little history of the old ‘di Lucca, “so we named one of the breakfast sandwiches Eggs di’ Lucca.”

Asked how they decided on EverBean as the name, Cheryl laughed, “We asked our customers what they thought it should be called and Dave Schott came up with EverBean. I kept going back to it. When we had the logo designed Alan added ‘by the lake.’ Always working to keep the quality high, Cheryl recently switched suppliers to Coda Coffee Company. “They’re local out of Denver and were voted the 2014 Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine,” she said. “We visited the Roastary. They’re environmentally responsible, they’re very supportive of us and every bean I tried – I liked!” She added with enthusiasm, “And one of the owners just moved to Evergreen.”

On the rare occasion that Cheryl gets away, she and Alan like to travel, hike and cycle. “I give kudos to my staff,” many of whom are high school or college students, “they take the business seriously and treat it as their own. They can always get hold of me, but I never dread coming back; I know that it’s in good hands.” Much of the credit should go to her. “My first job was horrible; they didn’t train us. I try to make EverBean a nice place to work.”

Happy with her family, happy with her business, the best thing is that Cheryl “feels a part of the community.” Anyone who has ever visited EverBean by the Lake would agree.

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