An Institution Goes Dark

Boulder wakes up a different city today. Atlas Purveyors closed their doors last night, leaving many of us wandering the streets aimlessly before heading in to work this morning.

Like many, my introduction to Atlas was early in my Boulder tenure, accidental, and unassuming.

It was my second full day in Boulder, with no job. I went looking for a coffee shop with WiFi to work on my resume and search for work. I walked the full length of the bricks, stunned that there was no coffee save Starbucks. At 15th & Pearl, I pulled out my phone and searched “Boulder WiFi”. At the top of the list was “Atlas Purveyors — 1505 Pearl St.”

“I should be able to see that from here.” I thought.

I crossed the street and found it. I ordered a mocha (my drink of choice in those paleo-optional days). I mumbled. The man behind the counter misheard. I ended up with a Boba, and I was too awkward and new-city-shy to speak up. The tea was tasty, but the tapioca was gross (seriously, whose idea was boba?) An hour or so later, he came to bus my table. My glass was empty, save the pile of un-touched tapioca balls in the bottom.

“Did you not like the boba?”

“Not generally…” anxiety sets in.

“Oh, what did you order?”

“A mocha, it’s no big deal”

“Well, let me make you another one.”

“Nah, I’m taking off.”

“Here, take a gift card, then. This is $5, each row is $1, each square is $.25”

I went home, and raved to Emilie about this place I’d found. Soon after, Jeremy Tanner recommended I attend Boulder Open Coffee Club, and suddenly Atlas became a daily fixture in my life. I’ve met nearly every dear friend I have in the state of Colorado within those caffeine-soaked walls. Almost every dollar I’ve earned while living here has been a result of a chance meeting, conversation, or introduction made in that place.

In the story of every triumph, every failure; every joy, and every heartache I’ve experienced since August 2010, Atlas has been in some way prologue, epilogue, or backdrop.

First stop from the bus station getting into town from the airport; last stop before hitting the highway out of town. Where everyone truly knew your name.

Thanks Chris, for building a second home for so many of us. We’ll all have to work hard to keep this community you’ve grown together in the wake of this shocking loss. Hopefully through this effort, we can continue to grow and strengthen what you’ve started.

  • This is one of the most heartwarming things I’ve ever read. There is a campfire in my heart, Woody, and you’re squeezing lighter fluid onto it.

  • Well said, my friend. I’m going to miss Chris and his cheery team at Atlas too. Definitely a Boulder fixture.