Owners hope Emerald Cafe will become a gem in downtown Steamboat

Ani Tikku and Walter Leskiff inside the new Emerald on Thursday, June 30, 2022. The husband and wife plan to open the new downtown restaurant at 700 Yampa St. this weekend, offering a variety of drinks and of organic food.
John F. Russell / Steamboat Pilot and Today

When the space that Ani Tikku and Walter Leskiff owned became available this spring, the couple decided not to rent it out again, but to pursue their dream of opening their own business, Emerald, and make Steamboat Springs their full-time home.

“We wanted to create a warm and inviting place for people to sit down for a meal and hang out with friends or family,” Tikku said. “When we bought (the space) in 2016, or maybe 2017, the idea at some point was that we were going to move here full time and use it for our own business.”

A few months ago, when Haus of Cucu moved to a new location a few doors down, the couple decided the time was right to start working on their own concept, Emerald, in the space at 700 Yampa St. ., Unit A105.

Emerald is planning a soft opening at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 2. Tikku expects Emerald to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, as well as 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Tikku said she hopes to increase hours after hiring more staff.

The couple, who have lived part-time in Steamboat since 2013, named the shop after Emerald Mountain across the river. The cafe will offer many items found on a traditional cafe menu, but Tikku said this concept goes beyond breakfast. Emerald will offer an all-organic selection of drinks which ranges from coffee and tea to sparkling wine and beer. There will also be a selection of organic foods on the menu with a wide range of prices in hopes of creating an appetizing menu for everyone.

The dining room inside Emerald looked set to go on Thursday, June 30, 2022 as the downtown restaurant geared up for an opening on Saturday, July 2. The business will offer morning coffee, but the owner said it’s a place to wake up, recharge and celebrate.
John F. Russell / Steamboat Pilot and Today

“We’ll have some of the different sparkling wines from different regions in addition to the nice premium champagnes,” Tikku said. “We wanted all organic and fair trade products to be on the menu, it was something that was important to us. We also want to be an alternative when you want to go out and celebrate.

The menu will be filled with organic choices including drip coffee, specialty coffee and espresso. There will also be cold brew coffee, pour over coffee and bulletproof coffee, a coffee drink blended with MCT oil and a spice kick. MCT oil is a supplement made from a type of fat called a medium chain triglyceride. It is said to be a source of energy and can fight bacterial growth, help protect your heart and help manage diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and autism.

Customers will also find smoothies, as well as golden milk, iced tea, chai, matcha, and hot chocolate.

Emerald will also offer a wide selection of loose leaf teas from Mountain Rose Teas including English Breakfast, Ceylon, Classic Chai, Orange Spice, Nepalese Black, Lapsang Souchong, Oolong, Gunpowder Green and White Peony, while herbal teas will include yerba mate, bush honey, hibiscus high, ginger turmeric and mint teas.

Emerald is still awaiting its liquor license but plans to offer sparkling wines from Champagne, France and Lambrusco, Italy as well as selections from Armenia, South Africa and Spain as well as national wines from Oregon, California and Washington. Emerald also plans to offer a selection of craft beers. Tikku said there will also be non-alcoholic beers and sparkling wines for those looking for non-alcoholic choices.

Food offered by Emerald will offer everything from homemade treats like organic zucchini and apple bread and cherry upside-down cake to organic blueberry muffins and cookies. There will also be organic pumpkin mousse and organic chia-maca pudding.

There will be a honey and nut butter jam sandwich and sourdough smoked salmon, an Armenian lavash roll and nut medley plus a selection of authentic Indian samosas, with caviar and eggs to complement a varied menu.

“We like to serve what we like to eat ourselves, maybe on the healthier side,” Tikku said. “We also want to have a different selection of food and drink. I’m half Armenian and half Indian, and Walter is of Ukrainian descent, so we have different Armenian coffees and other items on the menu.”

The space, which was Haus de Cucu, has been renovated. The owners sourced second-hand furniture from Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in the Vail Valley and stools from Annie’s Home Consignments to create an inviting dining room. Currently, Emerald features the work of painter Madeleine Burrough.

The couple lived in Houston for five years, but bought property in Steamboat in 2013 and worked to make the mountain town their full-time home.

“We really liked the name Emerald because it feels like the heart of the city,” Tikku said. “We also want to be the heart, the jewel of the city… a warm and welcoming place where people can sit down for a meal and spend time with friends or family. “

David H. Henry