The Saratoga Sun -

Divide reunites building, food

Vachers remodel structure built in 1902, return it to food service


Above and right, the spruced up deck and interior of The Divide.

"A customer came in on our second day of being open, ordered a pizza to go and when we gave it to him, he gave us a three dollar tip," said The Divide owner JoElla Vacher. "An hour later, he came back and gave us another $20 for a tip and told us that was the best pizza he had ever had."

The Divide, a new pizza eatery in Encampment, not only features pizza, but also has calzones, specialty salads, appetizers, Italian dishes and the newest addition, a salad bar.

JoElla said all the recipes are her son Darion's. She said he worked in a pizza place for a period of time and really enjoyed it, but financially it didn't reward him, so he worked construction. Now he is back making pizza and has created the crust, sauces and pastas, using almost all homemade ingredients.

Darion won't allow himself to be called a chef, but The Divide does have another who also takes pride in making great food.

"We do have a chef, who is Paul Chandler, and we just love him to pieces because he is doing an excellent job making all these dishes from scratch," says Vacher.

The Vacher family has lived in Encampment for over 20 years. Darion's education, from preschool to high school, was all in Encampment.

Desi Vacher, Darion's father, said after the family bought the building he was asked by a few locals if they were going to tear it down. Desi said it never occurred to the family to tear the structure down because it was built in 1902, making it one of Encampment's oldest remaining buildings.

JoElla said there had been a fire years back and the building had been one of the few surviving on the block. What the Vacher family wanted was to renovate the interior into a showplace where customers would enjoy their dining experience from food to setting while keeping the building intact.

The interior the customers get to see is not the only renovated section of the restaurant. The kitchen was another place that got a complete overhaul.

"It is big and I make sure it sparkles before we leave," JoElla said. "I don't even allow water spots on the stainless steel counters from after it has been cleaned and wiped down."

The bar, brought in from Denver, is a showpiece and beautiful to look at. At the moment, the restaurant is still considering its options on whether or not to serve alcohol.

"Honestly, the idea of this place was not to have alcohol at all, but ice cream and pizza so that kids can sit at the bar and hook up to their Wi-Fi. Families can come in and have pizza and not have to worry about somebody being drunk at the bar," JoElla said.

She thinks with three places in the community where people can drink and eat, having a place without alcohol for families has merit.

Still she has not ruled out having alcohol or other choices for which the bar could be utilized.

"We are just happy to be open and serving the community," JoElla said.

Desi added, "We are happy to bring new life to this building that is 115 years old and hopefully bringing something good."

The Divide is at 520 McCaffery in Encampment and is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., but is closed on Wednesdays. A new salad bar is expected to be available soon.


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