Tangerine puts a twist on traditional breakfast
By Heather Shoning
With its beautiful branding and top-notch décor, Tangerine may appear to be a Starbucks-caliber chain. But the heart and soul of this Boulder County restaurant trio is the magic behind its success. From the moment you cross the threshold into any location, the sunny, cheerful décor is second only to the bright smiles and disposition of the friendly staff. You know right then, dining is something special here, whether you pop in for a mid-week nosh or bring the family for a celebratory Sunday brunch. And let’s not forget, they serve lunch, too!
Chef/proprietor/founder Alec Schuler dishes on his restaurants’ successes and how they are navigating a COVID world.
Note: This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity. The Longmont location is currently closed, but Schuler plans to reopen when COVID-19 restrictions lift.
BMag: What do you think it is about brunch that Coloradans seem to gravitate towards?
AS: It’s just a culture. We’re not like a late-night city—if you go to Manhattan or San Francisco, people dine up until eleven p.m. or midnight. Also, you get good value with brunch. You’re getting a fresh plate of beautiful food and you’re only spending fifteen dollars or less. And then, of course, we have great weather. So, hanging out outside eating brunch is feasible many months of the year.
BMag: What makes Tangerine different from other breakfast restaurants in Boulder County?
AS: I think we have more vegetables, more fresh items than the typical breakfast place. And we offer multiple versions of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free items. We’re well versed in that field. A restricted eater can easily dine here. We use certain practices which are healthier. We use good oils everywhere. We use sea salt everywhere. We use organic unbleached flour everywhere. You can eat a big meal here and still leave feeling light and normal, if you will. And then we’re a little more innovative, a little more creative than the average breakfast place as well.
BMag: Your menu, to me, feels like down-home favorites with a twist. A traditional breakfast that you take to a different level. Where does that taste inspiration come from?
AS: Yeah, we tried to up-level your typical American brunch. We included classic foods, like the Monte Cristo—sometimes an older couple will come in and say, “I haven’t seen a Monte Cristo in thirty years.” I was just having fun with it when I initially wrote the menu. My background is European Mediterranean—Italian, Spanish, French food. Plus, Coloradans like TexMex so I have that twist in there and then the healthy twist.
BMag: Let’s talk coffee. You love your coffee program … why?
AS: We have a full-on coffee shop experience with well-trained baristas—soy milk, oat milk, almond milk. You can do all of those. We have all the flavorings, just like a coffee shop and we have quality espresso machines—it’s the real thing. And it’s not the sixteen-ounce, twenty-ounce style of coffee. It’s the six-ounce cappuccino, ten-ounce latte. I love quality, strong coffee myself, and I MUST have it at Tangerine! We’re using Salto. They have their store and they roast up in Nederland.
BMag: What is your competitive edge, in a non-COVID market? How do you stay alive? How do you keep growing?
AS: We offer a real product. Thoughtfully put together from scratch with great ingredients. We’re not cutting corners. We have a very nice atmosphere and friendly service. In all my restaurants, there are a lot of regulars every week, and the staff knows them and what coffee they’re going to drink. We’re that kind of place and always have been.
BMag: What’s coming up that you’d like readers to know?
AS: We’ve been taking COVID-19 seriously as a company. Our staff are temperature-checked upon arrival. From a business standpoint, I’m following the law to a T and all the regulations, because it’s important. Obviously in the sanitation side of it and not-spreading-the-disease side of it, but also for my customers to feel safe. I’m working on getting a large wedding tent put up in the back parking lot of the Lafayette location. So that would add about twelve to fifteen tables in a heated tent.
Must-Try Menu Items
› The coffee, of course
› Any of the Benedicts—Schuler says these are his favorite dish
› Three Cheese because what’s not to love about high-quality, melty cheese oozing from between two slices of perfectly crisped yet chewy sourdough
› Corned Beef Hash—A local favorite with house-made corned beef and a secret blend of spices
2777 Iris Ave., Boulder
300 S. Public Road, Lafayette
Both locations open for dine-in, pickup & delivery:
Mon.– Fri. 7:30 a.m.– 1:30 p.m.
Sat. & Sun. 7:30 a.m.– 2:00 p.m.
LONGMONT CLOSED, for now
379 Main Street, Longmont