When Moxie Bread Co. founder Andy Clark contracted COVID-19 in January, he was miserable for three weeks straight. But, on the flip side, the illness—and the forced downtime—gave Clark ample opportunity to think. When he began feeling healthy again, he decided to take bold action and grow his six-year-old, James Beard Award-nominated bakery business. “It was a blessing in disguise,” he says. “It was like getting an adult time-out.”
Moxie Bread Co. is now building a brand new retail location in Lyons, the small mountain community just north of Boulder. At the same time, crews are also expanding Moxie’s north Boulder location, Moxie Feed & Seed, adding an extra 3,000 square feet to the existing 1,200-square-foot space.
Though the coronavirus pandemic has been challenging for Clark and his staff, Clark says it also inspired him to take a leap and grow Moxie. “It just occurred to me that we are incredibly fortunate to have found ourselves in a position where we can ply our trade and employ people,” says Clark, who is 45. “It occurred to me that this is a time in our history, in my personal history and in the history of America, to show up. I have this sense of pride and responsibility that is overriding my sense of fear.”
In Lyons, Clark is opening a retail bakery and coffee shop on Main Street that will also double as a mercantile, complete with wine, fresh produce, eggs, linens, housewares, soaps, and knick-knacks. The 2,000-square-foot space also features a small stage that Clark envisions as a space for workshops, small concerts, and other events, especially during the town’s annual summertime RockyGrass music festival. Clark plans to cater to festival-goers in other ways, too, such as by offering grab-and-go picnic kits with cheeses, meats, breads, pastries, and drinks.
In fact, Lyons’ robust music scene is what drew Clark there in the first place. Clark moved to Boulder at age 18 after dropping out of college in California and hopping on a Greyhound bus to crash on a friend’s floor. He quickly fell in love with everything Colorado had to offer and began attending concerts and music events like RockyGrass, Folks Festival, and Telluride Bluegrass, all affairs hosted each summer by Lyons-based Planet Bluegrass. Since 1994, Clark says he’s attended at least one day of RockyGrass and Folks Festival in Lyons every year. “I’ve been dipping my toe into Lyons for the past 25 years and every time I go, I never want to leave,” he says. “It’s a magical place. It’s cradled in those beautiful red butte cliffs and there’s music percolating through every pore of that town.”
After opening the original Moxie in Louisville in 2015, Clark always kept the idea of opening a Lyons location in the back of his mind, but never felt like he had the bandwidth or the energy. During the pandemic, however, his mindset shifted. At Moxie’s Louisville shop, the staff quickly pivoted and began selling butter, eggs, prepared meals, and other household staples in addition to bread and pastries. “It’s been a really wonderful, unexpected surprise to adapt to the conditions and, in doing so, find pleasure and joy and fulfillment in feeding people in a different way,” Clark says. “In learning that we were able to survive and not get crushed by the pandemic like so many unfortunately were, that has given me some strength and optimism and the will to want to create more jobs and make more food and take more risks, which is super weird.”
The newly expanded Boulder location will bake and supply bread and pastries to the Lyons shop. When he opened the Seed & Feed outpost in January 2019, Clark envisioned the space primarily serving as Moxie’s flour mill, with some bakery retail on the side. But demand for baked goods quickly skyrocketed there, to the point that the Louisville bakery, which was supplying baked goods to the Boulder spot, could hardly keep up. As a result, Clark decided to more than double the size of the latter space, adding on-site production and a cafe. He convinced Maurizio Negrini, a third-generation baker from Italy and the longtime head baker and co-owner of Udi’s, to come out of retirement and lead the endeavor.
Construction on both locations will likely wrap up around the same time, ideally within the next few months, Clark says. Until then, he’s just trying to bask in the chaos and express gratitude to Moxie’s staff members and customers.
“I’ve been enjoying myself the past few months with that newfound security like, ‘Alright, well, we’re not going to go bankrupt, I’ve already got COVID, so check that off the list,’” he says. “I don’t want to tempt the universe like, ‘What else you got? We’ll survive it.’ But that’s why we called it Moxie in the first place. It’s that sort of can-do, chutzpah, determination. The team is afflicted with that same moxie, and our communities are holding us up. It’s really awe-inspiring what a community can do to support a business.”
Currently open: Moxie Bread Co., 641 Main St, Louisville; Moxie Feed & Seed, 4593 Broadway, Boulder
Coming soon: Moxie Bread Co., 355 Main Street, Lyons