“Speak Your Truth Even If Your Voice Shakes” by Whitney Connor Clapper, Senior Global Environmental Activism Marketing Manager at Patagonia
In the heart of Salida, Colorado, Moonlight Pizza & Brew Pub has become a cherished fixture of the community. Founded in 1994, the original owners made donuts by day and pizzas in the “moonlight” of the evening hours. And with that, a new brand was born! Moonlight’s pizza, along with its commitment to team members, customers, and community, has grown into something more extraordinary than its founders could have imagined.
With its unmistakable Colorado vibe, Moonlight Pizza is known for its delicious hand tossed crust style that leaves locals and visitors craving more. But, as life in a small mountain town evolves, so did Moonlight’s story. In 2011, the narrative took an exciting turn with the addition of “Brewpub” to its name. Hand tossed pizzas paired with freshly brewed beers added to the brands growth and success!
However, even the most idyllic tales face challenges and Moonlight was no exception. The impact of COVID brought labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, increased expenses, closures, and overall exhaustion. In the face of adversity, the partners, Kyle and Brenna, turned to the Central Mountain SBDC for guidance.
As Moonlight found it’s resilience during these challenging times, the Central Mountain SBDC played an important role in the continued success story. Consultants provided strategic planning assistance, assisted the Moonlight team to navigate the intricacies of a partnership buyout, and collaborated on operational goals. The support extended to financial aspects, with a thorough review of profit and loss statements and margin analysis. The SBDC also supported funding for the buyout, which resulted in a combination of support by local lender Collegiate Peaks Bank and the SBA. The outcome was not just a successful transition but the birth of a new venture. Moonlight Pizza & Brew Pub emerged as a 50% women-owned business, a source of pride for the community, and assisted in retaining 30 full-time and 30 part-time jobs, contributing to the economic vitality of the rural area.
Beyond its business success, Moonlight stands out for its ethos. The commitment to freshness is evident in their dough, made in-house daily. Their eco-conscious decisions, from eschewing plastic straws to serving beverages in glass, reflect a global perspective.
Moonlight’s dedication to sustainability extends to its handmade sodas, served at cellar temps for a full-flavored experience.And woven into the fabric of Moonlight’s narrative is a commitment to the community that goes beyond the pizza oven and brewing vats. Every Monday they generously donate 10% of their sales to programs in Salida that make the town amazing. Whether supporting school groups, ski clubs, horse rescue, or the mentor program, Moonlight gives back because, in their words, “it’s the right thing to do.” As they thrive, they continue to uplift the community that has supported them on this incredible journey.
As Moonlight Pizza & Brew Pub continues to weave its narrative into the fabric of Salida, it stands as a testament to resilience, community, and the pursuit of dreams. The Central Mountain SBDC, a guiding force in this journey, celebrates Moonlight’s success as a beacon of entrepreneurial spirit in the mountains of Colorado.