The moving line of cars and pickups start early, sometimes three or four cars on both sides of the service windows at Sunrise Burritos. If you’re looking for a stack of hot cakes or a waffle, there’s are places two blocks north. Ditto for a biscuit.
At Sunrise Burritos, there’s just one item – burritos. Six different ways. All of them made to order with green chile that one longtime customer describes as “life changing.”
Erin and Levi Trembly have helped launch the workday for thousands, softened a hangover, or satisfied a “gotta-have-one” desire. They’ve steadily grown their business over four years on south Townsend Avenue, the 12x10 kiosk in the parking lot of Camelot Gardens.
“Montrose needed more breakfast places,” said Erin Trembly as she was wrapping up business and cleaning the kitchen one day last week. “Levi and I liked getting a breakfast burrito, but there wasn’t one around, no green chile, no drive-through. So, we started one.”
The small menu is by design. “We wanted to keep it simple,” added Trembly. “We’ve had people ask for ketchup and we oblige, but I want to tell them: try my food first.” There no ‘vegan’ option. “Hey, this is Western Colorado. We do have a meatless version, though.”
Levi Trembly grew up in metro Albuquerque and has had a lifelong appreciation of New Mexico green chile. He worked in the food and beverage business in Ouray and Telluride. Erin (Hutt) Trembly is from Montrose and graduated from Montrose High School. She got her first taste of the food business while in high school by working at the old SilverJack Mining Company on East Main Street. (The SilverJack opened in 2000 by Jack and Denise Ludwig who sold it five years later.
Today, it’s a church.)
Sunrise Burrito’s coffee comes from Eric Palumbo’s Cimarron Coffee Roasters, another Montrose small business. “Eric has been wonderful to work with. His coffee is awesome,” Tembly said.
The Tremblys have to rise early to make their 6:30 a.m. opening.
“We are not morning people,” said Erin with a laugh. “We’re grumpy in the morning, we’ve got small children. If we could get up earlier, we’d catch the Telluride traffic on the way out of town. But we just can’t.”
Often, there’s a line of cars waiting for a Sunrise burrito to start the day. The Tremblys close at 12:30 p.m. The busiest day is Saturday. The most popular burritos are bacon and sausage. Levi designed and trademarked the distinctive logo.
What are the lessons learned from four years in a business that embodies small business?
“Be nice to customers. People know us, but we have a lot of first timers, too,” said Erin Trembly.
They’ve also learned to be efficient in ordering food, keeping it fresh and ready to serve and to be compliant with all the regulatory pulls and pushes from local government. She said the county health department has been “great to work with.” County employees have shown her food-prep efficiencies and have an interest in their success, she also said.
The Tremblys employ Tawna Sealock and Mary English. Both brighten the day with a greeting from the service windows. The burritos, once a customer reaches the front of the line, are served hot, fresh and quickly. English is a familiar face around Montrose. She worked for many years at the Red Barn and other Ted Nelson-owned restaurants.
Their two children reflect business and personal milestones. Daughter Maggie was born about a month after Sunrise opened its doors. On some days, her mother helped with childcare from the parking lot. Son Henry came along as they were finished their house.
Levi has started another food business, Duke’s City Food, with Philly cheesesteaks the specialty. “That’s his deal completely,” said Erin Trembly. They have considered a second Sunrise location, but for now, “all I want is a good night’s sleep. And to serve the best burrito in Montrose.”
Stephen Woody was the publisher of community daily newspapers for 38 years in four cities, including the Montrose Daily Press, 1997-2011.