Locals 2010: Katie & D.J. Bessey
July 6, 2010
— In the six years they have owned Hahn's Peak Café, the Bessey family has doubled in size.
Katie and D.J. Bessey run the cozy North Routt County restaurant with the help of their 3 1/2-year-old son, Sal, a beguiling, big-eyed charmer. Their daughter, Ramona, was born in April.
The restaurant keeps the family busy, and it provides a popular hangout spot for the tight-knit North Routt community.
"The café I think is definitely a place where everybody feels like they can go, sort of like the old Cheers bar," said Paul Geppert, of the band 3Wire.
Katie, a Chicago-area native, moved to Colorado in 1994. She eventually moved to Boulder, where she and Boston native D.J. met while working at the Bookend Café. They moved to Steamboat in 2002 and married in 2003.
Katie taught at Lowell Whiteman Primary School and then at the North Routt Community Charter School before they bought Hahn's Peak Café. Katie bakes and bartends, and D.J. does much of the cooking.
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The Besseys love being a part of the supportive North Routt world. The night they returned from the hospital with Ramona, Katie's visiting sisters and mother found the road to their cabin blocked by a tree felled in a snowstorm.
"D.J. just jumped in the car and went to the neighbors and said, 'Get your chain saw,'" Katie said.
"I had a truck full of neighbors with chain saws," D.J. said with a grin.
"We're all in this together up here," Katie said.
At the café, the Besseys aim to provide a comfortable place where people can eat good food and musicians can perform in an intimate, fun setting.
It's a great venue, Geppert said.
"They're just the most gracious hosts running a bar or restaurant that we can think of," he said. "We love playing up there because, to us, it's like playing in our living room."
The family lives above the café, and Sal and Ramona will grow up with plenty of love from locals. For D.J. and Katie, that's one of the best parts.
"We are lucky to have such great neighbors and friends in this community who have put their hearts into our kids," Katie said.