by Linda L. Osmundson
The sign on the door read “Closed” and the times of operation stated, “Monday, 4:00.” Still, a car, with the driver’s door open, sat alongside the road in front of The Merc (short for Mercantile), located in the small town of Jamestown. A neighbor offered to go inside to get Rainbow.
A beautiful young woman holding a one-year-old while another toddler hid behind her leg, walked through the doorway and announced, “I’m Rainbow.”
Even though busy, Rainbow was anxious to talk about her cafe. “We’re a little rough around the edges,” she commented completely at ease, “but that is part of our charm.”
Housed in an old building with three apartments in the back and upstairs, the cafe seats around fifty-five. It opens Mondays at 4:00, and has open mic night until 8:00 for around 20 to 25 people, who are guaranteed a time.
Tuesdays through Saturdays, 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., the cafe caters to residents and visitors who order from a menu of homemade specialties. Thursday and Saturday nights, music and dinner specials are provided. Sunday is reserved for “the best Sunday brunch anywhere in Colorado.” After brunch, the cafe closes until Monday at 4:00. In addition, Rainbow offers game night once a month and tapa specials on Fridays. Homemade baked goods are always available, especially pies. It’s a great place to kibitz with the locals over a meal, drink, and stories.
Four cooks, including Rainbow, take turns throughout the week. Much of the organic produce is purchased from nearby Red Wagon Farm.
Rainbow worked for the previous owner for several years before taking over the business about a year ago. She proudly claims the cafe has a family friendly atmosphere. A side room provides toys for kids so parents can enjoy a leisurely dinner and glass of wine from her great wine selection.
She hires bands locally as well as groups from other towns. One Texas band makes The Merc their Colorado stop.
To pay the musicians, she serves them food and drink, then passes a tip cup. She says on music nights the patrons support the arts, pack the house, and give good tips. Bands love to perform at The Merc. One musician says they usually are given a sound check and told to go to work. Rainbow treats them well even if she doesn’t pay them in cash.
Patrons come from surrounding towns. If weather looks iffy, they call (303-442-5847) and ask about conditions. Rainbow posts her band schedule periodically on Facebook at Jamestown Mercantile.
Besides organizing bands for her restaurant, Rainbow also procures the bands for the town’s winter concerts. Her plate definitely runs over.
While we talked, one of the apartment residents sauntered through the door with the “Closed” sign. “Did you get the paper?” Stephen asked. “I thought I’d sit on the porch in the sun and read it.” Stephen, as it turned out, plays drums in bands that entertain in the cafe. “We move those tables.” He pointed to the small bay window area. Sometimes as many as eight musicians crowd into the space.
Stephen is also an artist, although his were not on display that day. Rainbow rotates paintings by various locals on the cafe walls. In addition, a local historian provided old pictures to display.
Other decor consists of overhead shelves filled with artifacts, old toys, cash register, and more. The clock has hung in the same place for 100 years. If you are looking for a quaint, small town experience, visit Jamestown and be sure to stop in at The Merc.