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Featured Article

Put Your Feet Up and Stay Awhile

Creature Comforts Café Cultivates Community Connection on Pearl Street

Article by Tony Firestine

Photography by Poppy and Co. by Kelsey Huffer

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

In less than a year, Creature Comforts Café has become a beloved community hub on an energetic corner of Pearl Street in Boulder. When setting foot into the airy and cheerful space you immediately feel the notion of intention behind every aspect of the inviting atmosphere. High ceilings, comfortable mixed-use seating and warm welcomes from behind the counter all contribute to the vision that owner and proprietor Jess Liu has created by deliberate design. “It makes me really happy to see people put their feet up on the benches,” says Jess, “because it means they’re feeling comfortable to relax.” With nearly two decades of dedication to hospitality, Jess brings a unique blend of passion, creativity and commitment to her establishment, offering patrons an unforgettable experience that transcends the ordinary. Creature Comforts is more than just a place to grab a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. It's a labor of love, a testament to Jess's unwavering dedication to her craft and a reflection of her vision for a space that fosters connection, comfort and community.
With roots that trace back to Jess’s earlier years in Japan and New York City, her journey in the hospitality industry has been varied and extensive. From her time as a server and front-of-house manager to her foray into patisserie and event management, Jess's diverse background has equipped her with the skills, knowledge and passion needed to bring Creature Comforts to life. “Creating my own space is something I’ve always wanted,” says Jess. “Since I was a little girl, I wanted to open up a dessert shop or a restaurant. I was just always intrigued by hospitality and going out to restaurants was something my family did pretty regularly, so I got some early exposure.” As Jess grew older, her vision of what that space looked like evolved. She fell in love with cafe culture in her twenties and realized that the space she wanted to create would be in that vein—a gathering place for the community. Visiting local cafes is still one of her favorite ways to explore and get to know a new place. After more than two years of planning and jumping through hoops to obtain the proper licensing—including speaking on her own and other small businesses’ behalf at more than one City Council meeting—the culmination of Jess’s experiences and skills came to fruition. Since its opening, Creature Comforts has morphed into a magnet for community connection.
The proof of meaningful intention at Creature Comforts is not only evident in the design and warmth of the space but also in the imaginative fare. Being open from 9 am to 7 pm daily (4 pm on Sunday, and closed Monday) and serving breakfast, lunch and light dinner fare, the small kitchen puts out plates that are as pleasing to the eye as they are gratifying. “Everything we do has a really unique twist, more importantly, presentation,” says Jess. “I would say it has a lot of Asian influence. I studied patisserie in Japan… Pastry shops there are like going into a jewelry store. They’re laid out meticulously and they are beautiful to look at. So much so that people are like ‘I don’t want to break the exterior’… but then you taste it.” One section of the menu, “Toasts” are all served on Japanese milk bread that comes from a local Japanese bakery. The presentations are simple, yet elegant and precise. Yuzu marmalade toast is lathered with a sunshine-yellow preserve, studded with pomegranate seeds. Cucumber goat cheese toast with smoked salmon and “everything” seasoning is a simple ode to an East Coast staple but on pillowy milk bread instead of a bagel. The beverages exude as much love and care as the food. The espresso-based drinks are complete with swirling and frothy latte art and the signature salted honey latte achieves the perfect balance between sweet and savory. 
In addition to their own creations, Creature Comforts is intentional in their non-alcoholic, beer, wine and mercantile selections by often sourcing from women and/or BIPOC-owned businesses. A unique hospitality-included, tip-free pricing structure eliminates the need for tips (Creature Comforts does not solicit or accept them) and allows Jess to provide a living wage to her small staff, providing more financial stability in an industry that often has many different factors that can affect one’s income. Jess believes by removing tips from the check-out process, her team can better focus on providing delightful hospitality and their guests receive greater price transparency. Through partnerships with local businesses, sustainable business practices and curating an environment where patrons want to sit and enjoy, Jess is committed to creating a space that not only serves delicious food and drinks but also supports small businesses and fosters a sense of belonging. 
Creature Comforts also hosts a variety of events aimed at enriching the cultural landscape of Boulder. From coffee cupping classes and live music performances to themed dinners and pop-up markets, Creature Comforts offers a diverse range of experiences that appeal to patrons of all ages and interests. Looking to the future, Jess remains committed to growing Creature Comforts while staying true to its core values of hospitality and community engagement. Jess emphasizes focusing on building the layers of community within the current space and the importance of preserving the unique identity and atmosphere of the cafe. With its commitment to sustainability, its dedication to ethical business practices and its unwavering focus on providing exceptional experiences for its guests, Creature Comforts is a destination truly worth savoring.

  • Photo by Elles Eye
  • Photo by Will Smith
  • Photo by Will Smith
  • Photo by Will Smith
  • Photo ny Will Smith