A view from the front lines of change: Ridge at 38 as seen by businesses located on it.
By: Janelle VanDyke
“I love it”, were the first words to leave her mouth when LaNell Sonner entered the soon to be Kataluma Chai building. Located between Upham and Teller Street on 38th Avenue, she believed she had found the perfect location and building to place a second Kataluma Chai shop. “I had been down here on 38th and had seen some of these improvements that have been going in. We’re right across from the junior high, and we’ve got opportunities to be a part of the community.” LaNell saw the potential and hopped on the opportunity, ”Wheat Ridge is pretty strong about helping small businesses so I thought well, we’ll just jump in here and see what happens.”
LaNell opened her first Kataluma Chai shop in 2004 at the Colorado Mills Mall. It has been a successful location for nearly 10 years. LaNell wanted to build on that success and experience a main street location.
Kataluma Chai isn’t like any old Starbucks, they are original and unique. Sonner states, “We do Chai. We do Chai like nobody else does. There are a lot of coffee shops out there and we do sell coffee and espresso, along with food, but our chai is our feature point. We have product that you can take home, we have 14 different flavors but behind the counter we will play with our base flavors and we will come up with over a hundred different flavors.” They specialize in chai tea, with endless flavor options. Beyond chai, they have items that appeal to everyone. They have espresso for the avid coffee drinkers, smoothie’s sandwiches and wraps for the foodies, and a broad array of gift offerings so people can share with friends.
Owner LaNell creates a “homey” feel within both her shops that serves as a quiet study area or a place to just relax from daily chaos. Each store has its own style, but both are welcoming to everyone.
Opening a second Kataluma shop outside of the mall, LaNell had hoped for more excitement and community involvement than she had seen from Lakewood. Located at the west end of the bustling Ridge at 38 and across from the high traffic and heavily populated Wheat Ridge 5-8 school, LaNell’s location is in the middle of it all. Recently, a group of kids from the school volunteered to help LaNell out with some yard work, while in return they got to sip some of her heavenly Chai beverages. “Knowing that the school is there and having opportunities to interact with the community is great”.
She is having a great time integrating her new business in the community and making new friends. She looks forward to new and exciting things!
Kataluma Chai is a great addition to Ridge at 38. We are lucky to have such an enthusiastic business owner within our community. We wish LaNell Sonner luck with her future and invite you to meet her over a cup of your favorite beverage.