Balancing two kids and four businesses with 27 employees in a town of 1,700 is no easy task. Cassie and Tommy Orduno are doing just that and making it work.
Early mornings, late nights and time away from family are sometimes the sacrifices needed to achieve success.
A Juggling Act
“It’s a lot of juggling, honestly. I’m a meticulous planner and scheduler and I have to keep to that to be able to make sure I’m getting everything done in a week that we need to,” said Cassie. “Tommy and I work together really well and we’ve figured out a system. If I have to run into one of the businesses, he can sit home for a little while with the kids and cover those gaps. While he’s at work at Bella’s for the night, I’m able to be at home with the kids.”
Cassie feels fortunate she’s in a position where she can spend quality time with her children, but she understands it might not be as much time as either the children or their parents would prefer.
“I just always hope that what we’re putting in now is going to pay off in the long run and I hope someday our kids will understand. It’s really for their future as much as ours,” said Cassie. “I just hope they can see that and hope that they don’t ever feel like we’ve chosen the businesses over them.”
Cassie is a third-generation Platte Valley resident. The oldest daughter of Dan and Pam Kraft, she grew up on a ranch established by her grandparents outside Encampment. Her mother was a long-time art teacher at Encampment K-12 School. Her sister, Alysia Kraft, is the lead singer of Patti Fiasco, a band well-known in both Wyoming and Colorado.
Cassie went to Michigan State University for graphic design. She eventually moved back to the West, where she met her husband.
From Bella’s to SunnyCup
The Ordunos first met in Denver when they both worked at Sullivan’s Steakhouse. After several years of working together, the couple decided to leave the restaurant industry. Instead, they ended up bringing it with them. They brought fine-dining to the Platte Valley with Bella’s Bistro in 2011.
Bella’s was the Ordunos’ own take on Italian cuisine in Saratoga. It is one of the only restaurants in Saratoga where a reservation is required every day of the week.
“We ran Bella’s until the pandemic hit in 2020 and we got very nervous that perhaps sit-down dining was a thing of the past and thought our whole livelihood was on the line,” said Cassie.
The Ordunos continued to run their business with some modifications. Unable to provide proper social distancing, Bella’s Bistro offered curbside pick-up for the first time. It is a service still used today.
With statewide health orders restricting their business, the Ordunos decided to try something new. The couple purchased a building on West Bridge Avenue and opened Saratoga Sandwich Company.
“We launched that concept in 2020 hoping that it would provide us with a living should dining out never really recover,” said Cassie. “We thought a counter-service restaurant would be able to make it through a pandemic world. It’s been really successful.”
A more casual restaurant than Bella’s Bistro, the Saratoga Sandwich Company offers breakfast and lunch in an expedited manner. The business offers its own take on popular sandwiches along with locally themed menu items.
A year later, when a popular coffee and bakeshop—Sweet Marie’s—closed, Cowbell Coffee was born.
“Cowbell came about when Marie decided to close the bakeshop. We were open in the mornings and people kept asking ‘Are you guys going to do coffee? Now there’s no place to get coffee’,” said Cassie. “On a whim, we bought a big catering trailer that sits right next door to Bella’s.”
The original plan had been to operate both a coffee and ice cream shop out of the trailer. The winter weather complicated their plans. Cowbell Coffee is now nestled inside the Saratoga Sandwich Company. Having the two businesses in one building has proven quite successful, said Cassie.
While the coffee business was going full-team ahead, the ice cream business was still a goal for the couple. This year, when another real estate opportunity became available, the Ordunos opened SunnyCup. Sorbets, Yeti shakes and fruit smoothies are available from morning to night in a space that reminds the customer “Good Vibes Only”.
“That one’s definitely a nod to my children. I just wanted to create a space that they would think was fun and exciting, a place to hold birthday parties and a place for families to go after dinner. It’s just a family oriented, fun place with a light-hearted sweet side,” said Cassie. “Now I feel like I’ve accomplished my goals. I’ve got all the things that I like to eat taken care of.”
Making Saratoga Better
The Ordunos employ 27 people in Saratoga. There is some crossover, but Cassie she doesn’t ask their employees to work in more than one of the businesses. Some, however, will work mornings at the Saratoga Sandwich Company and then work at SunnyCup or Bella’s Bistro later in the day.
“It’s nice for our employees to be able to offer them as much work as they want,” said Cassie. “It’s also nice for us to be able to pull from a really broad pool of people with multiple talents.”
When there are gaps to be filled, Cassie and Tommy step in as needed. In a town like Saratoga, where tourism is becoming a year-round business, this gives both the owners and their employees an opportunity to form connections with both residents and visitors.
Tourism is booming in Saratoga. We get tourists from farther away longer in the season. Our fall and winter slow down isn’t nearly as severe as it used to be,” said Cassie. “We get people from all over the world in all of our businesses. Sometimes, literally all of our businesses. They’ll have coffee and then come back for lunch and then have ice cream in the afternoon and then go have dinner at Bella’s.”
Though tourism is a major contributor to their business, Cassie said she and her husband are appreciative of the support they get all year from Platte Valley residents. It helps them feel like they’re achieving their goal of making Saratoga a better place, she said.
“Our goal has always been to make Saratoga a better community and our contribution is food service. That’s what we know,” said Cassie. “We hope that with each concept that we build and establish in Saratoga, that we’re making Saratoga a little bit better both for the locals and people that come to visit.”