New restaurant opens doors in Center

Photo by Patrick Shea Carala Thatcher, Kristina Bennett, Tyler Bennett, and Lisa Palmgren pose on their second day after opening the Corner Grill and Coffeehouse in Center on Sept. 13.

CENTER — The Corner Grill and Coffeehouse opened in Center on Sept. 12, offering another dining option in town with coffee specials, breakfast, and lunch on the corner of Highway 112 and Broadway Street.

Launched by Lisa and Kent Palmgren, the 31-seat restaurant is a reprise of Lisa’s kitchen skills from the couple’s cafe at Hooper Junction. In addition to specialty drinks and straight brews of San Juan Mountain Coffee, the Corner Grill and Coffeehouse features baked goods from the Worth the Drive Bakery south of Monte Vista.

Lisa’s son Tyler Bennett and his wife Kristina round out the staff along with Carala Thatcher. Thatcher is engaged to Tyler’s brother Dylan, who will return at the end of October to help at the restaurant following his military deployment in Africa.

Open Monday through Friday, the Corner Grill and Coffeehouse breakfast runs from 7 to 11 a.m. Tyler said they like to play “low-fi hip hop chill music” in the morning. Then they crank up 1990s alternative music for the louder lunch phase from 11 to 2 p.m.

The restaurant will stay open until 4:30 p.m. to serve coffee and ice cream. With Center Consolidated Schools a few steps away from the coffeehouse, the afternoon hours provide a haven for students and staff after school.

Tyler and his mother Lisa discussed delivery options for the future, perhaps to accommodate COVID-outbreak conditions. A new federal law applies taxes to deliveries, and as Tyler explained, their limited staff would struggle to maintain dine-in service and deliveries. Customers can choose takeout or sit-down, and they can order online via Toasttab.com.

The lunch crowd filled the dining area the day the Corner Grill and Coffeehouse opened, followed by a steady stream of breakfast customers and another full-house lunch on Tuesday.

Every week, Taco Tuesdays will feature three varieties — smoked brisket, chicken bacon ranch, and mango shrimp. As its name implies, Chicken Fried Fridays could become a comfort food favorite serving hand-breaded fried chicken with mashed potatoes, corn, and a hot roll.

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