Mountain Shadows still a family restaurant

       Mountain Shadows, 2223 W. Colorado Ave., has always been a family restaurant. It still is. Not the same family, but real close.

New Mountain Shadows Restaurant owners Ben Zook and Kasie Swain stand in front of its sign facing onto Colorado Avenue. Kasie started at the business 17 years ago, working for founders Ray and Andrea Hill. Ben, Kasie's son in law, has been keeping Mountain Shadows' books for the past four years.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Founders Ray and Andrea Hill recently decided to sell the business for personal health reasons. The new owners are Kasie Swain, who had worked with the Hills as a waitress and manager for about 17 years, and her son-in-law Ben Zook, a 2004 Coronado High alumnus (and recent UCCS business/finance graduate) who has been keeping the books for Mountain Shadows for four years.
       Staying on with Kasie and Ben will be Ray's daughter Tara, who will serve as manager. “She's family,” Kasie smiled.
       Customers won't see any change in the menu that Ray had originally created in the 1980s, and the food will be cooked the same way, Kasie pledged. As for service, she wants it to be as good or better. To avoid excess waiting for a single wait-person, “we'll all wait on you,” she said.
       Open daily for breakfast and lunch, the restaurant is in a converted house with 60 seats inside and 38 on a front patio.
       The only significant changes Kasie and Ben have planned are getting back to opening nights and regaining a liquor license. The Hills had once operated Mountain Shadows that way, but not in recent years. “If we can reopen nights, even it's just three nights a week, it would be worthwhile,” Kasie said. The restaurant “is too small to be a huge money-maker. You have to work it if you own it.”
       Just as members of Andrea and Ray's family had helped out over the years, the same can already be said of Kasie's. Her daughter Katie, Ben's wife, “was probably 9 when she came in,” Kasie said. And Kasie's youngest, Emma (who was at the restaurant during the interview), couldn't remember her first visit. She helps out now on Sundays, her mom said.
       Ben and Katie met at Coronado in 10th grade chemistry class. Over time, as he got involved with Mountain Shadows (he still works at another eatery to help make ends meet), the idea grew that “it would be cool to have our own restaurant,” he said.
       A lively addition to Ben and Katie's household is their daughter, Ella, born last year. In a recent visit, Grandmother Kasie saw her reaching for one of the butcher knives. Probably Ella's way of saying she wants to help at the restaurant too.

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