Franchise owner Tim Hanley is pleased with the location of his new Taco John’s Restaurant at San Juan Avenue and Main Street.

By Caitlin Switzer

MONTROSE—(March 19)  When the City of Montrose and CDOT conducted the San Juan Bypass swap in 2010, the exchange—which gave control of Main Street back to the City—created new opportunities for street fairs and festivals Downtown.  The move also breathed some new life into the intersection at Main Street and San Juan—in addition to the traditional presence of the Mattics Orchard Farm Stand during market season (July-October), the busier-than-ever crossroads has attracted a number of new businesses over the past year.

Potomoi Anglers, a flyfishing shop that opened in 2012 at 1246 East Main, proved to be short-lived; however, its space has already been taken over by Towers Treasures, a gift emporium that took occupancy earlier this month.

Tim Hanley’s Taco John’s Franchise (1300 East Main) opened three months ago to traffic-jamming crowds and continues to thrive.

“I am very happy,” Hanley said. “Things are going well—the location is excellent. I like Montrose, and wanted to be part of the community. And becoming a franchisee is something I always wanted to do.”

Growing up in Montana, Hanley was very familiar with the Taco John’s chain.

“I would never have opened this if I didn’t enjoy the food,” he said. “We are really customer-focused. We give good service, and everything is made fresh to order.”

Lunch is the busiest meal of the day, and Hanley expects his numbers to rise as tourists begin to pull into town for the summer season. Taco John’s currently employs around 15.

Longtime local favorite Red Barn Restaurant is just a block away at 1413 East Main, and Jim and May Epling’s Firehouse Restaurant is also nearby at 1135 East Main St. Although the location has seen restaurants come and go over the years—past inhabitants of the space have included Blue Table, Damiano’s on Main and Sicily’s—the Firehouse, which opened seven months ago, has begun to draw a steady clientele.

“This is a really good location,” May Epling said. “Once we painted the outside orange, people could see that we are here—if we put out balloons it is even better! Breakfast is going very well, and dinner. I can’t wait until we are open outside, with bands on the patio.”

Epling said that she would like to see the Thursday evening Main in Motion events extended all the way from the Lower Montrose Arts District on the West side to the San Juan Bypass on the East.

“Why not?” she asked. “I would like to see East and West Main incorporated anyway—it’s all Main Street. And they are struggling down there more than we are uptown.”

The enthusiasm shared by businesses located near the bypass benefits the entire community, Montrose ACT Executive Director Jenni Sopsic said.

“Whenever a business expresses it is doing well and is seeing an increase in commerce, regardless of their location, that is a tangible victory,” Sopsic said.” The excise tax that restaurants collect that aids in funding the tourism promotion program was up 7.3 percent last year compared to 2011. Although those numbers are not broken out individually, that is a positive indicator for the entire community.”