The Beat Goes On

A New Carbondale Restaurant Offers Wholesome Vegetarian Fare that Satisfies Even Die-Hard Carnivores

Each new year is like a clean slate or a blank canvas. Many of us start out with a host of good intentions, particularly in the areas of health and diet. A new restaurant in Carbondale takes the guesswork out of eating healthy. Virtually everything on the menu at The Beat is good for you.

Tobyn Britt and Lucy Perutz opened their eatery at 968 Main Street in April of 2019, starting out with a daily lunch menu. They began serving dinner on Fridays and Saturdays in October, and expanded to nightly dinners in November.

The freshly-made food has been a hit with locals in Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley, and with tourists. “When people Google ‘vegetarian restaurant’ in our area, we’re the first one that comes up,” says Lucy.

In 2014, Tobyn opened a smoothie bar called The Beat in his mother’s gift shop, Dancing Colours. When he met Lucy at the 5Point Film Festival in 2015, the two connected instantly and were married within 12 days. After operating the smoothie bar together for a while, they decided to approach Tobyn’s mother with the idea of converting her shop into a full restaurant. She agreed, and after closing the shop for a year and a half of extensive renovations, their dream became a reality.

The Beat’s atmosphere is comfortable and inviting, with eclectic decor and a cozy fireplace in the dining room near the bar. 

“Everyone wants the table by the fireplace,” says Lucy. The restaurant seats about 38, with another 20 seats outdoors (in nice weather), and six seats at the bar.

“Lunch has been our bread and butter,” says Tobyn. Lucy adds, “People want something quick, light, and tasty that won’t make them sleepy.” The restaurant offers a unique “Beatbox” lunch special each day, which Lucy describes as “filling, healthy, and flavorful—and super vegetable-heavy. It checks all the boxes. I wake up every day and think, I’ve got to come up with a new soup and a Beatbox.” 

“It’s a cool challenge,” Tobyn agrees. Some customers come in every single day, so the pair must be making good decisions. 

About 80-95 percent of the ingredients are organic, and local ingredients are used whenever possible, based on availability and what’s in season (see sidebar). Everything on the menu is clearly labeled as vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free, which helps customers order according to their dietary preferences and requirements. 

Lucy, who is from Chicago, has been a vegetarian since she was 12, so creating this kind of food is second nature to her. “I don’t even know how to cook with meat,” she says, adding, “it excites me to cook vegetarian.”

Tobyn is an omnivore, but explains that “about 80 percent of my diet is plant-based.” He serves as a kind of one-man focus group when developing menu items to appeal to carnivores. “Eating just one vegetarian meal per day, or a little less meat, is a pretty easy way to have a big impact on the environment,” he says.

“One of the greatest compliments we get is when we serve a meat-eater and they leave satisfied,” says Lucy. Tobyn adds, “I think a majority of our customers are not vegetarian.”

For people concerned about getting enough protein, there are a variety of sources on the menu, “like tofu, tempeh, local beans, quinoa, and smoothies with vegan protein powder,” says Tobyn. 

“Some vegetables have more digestible protein per gram than beef,” notes Lucy. 

The kitchen avoids cheaper, highly processed oils in favor of healthier fats, which according to Tobyn include “organic safflower oil in our dressings, avocado oil in the fryers, along with olive oil, coconut oil, and grass-fed organic and cultured butters.”

The Beat’s drink menu is just as intentional. 

“We have really good wine, cocktails, beer, and cider,” says Lucy. “It’s one of our favorite parts of this restaurant; we want people to have a good time.” A selection of libations, most of which are local or Colorado-made, are available with meals and during happy hour (from 5-6 p.m. daily). Teas, coffee, and espresso beverages are also served, as well as the original smoothies.

“We’ve always wanted to have a business that promotes sustainability, environmentalism, and good practices,” says Lucy. “We compost everything—even paper towels, napkins, and menus—and we don’t use trash bags.” 

And leftover food?

“We make our own dog food with the scraps,” Lucy says.

Lucy and Tobyn are quick to praise their staff. 

“We really love our team. We have some awesome people here that are really invested,” says Lucy, pointing out that all tips are pooled and shared equally among the entire staff. “[Another] cool part of the business is that it’s a family operation.”

“My mother is always here,” says Tobyn. “She does the flower arrangements, and my dad will come in after work and wash dishes for us. It’s all hands on deck.” 

As The Beat approaches its first anniversary this spring, Tobyn and Lucy say they’re always listening to feedback to improve the customer experience.

“We love doing this,” says Tobyn. “We’re in it to make it work.”

“We really like the personal interaction with people,” says Lucy. “We’re feeding our community, which is really cool…it makes me really happy.”

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The Locavore Life

The ethos of The Beat promotes eating local by sourcing as many of their ingredients as possible from nearby suppliers. Free-range gourmet eggs come from City Farm in Montrose. Milk, butter, and cheese are sourced from Longmont and Palisade. Fresh produce is acquired from a wide array of growers in the Roaring Fork Valley as well as Paonia, Hotchkiss, and Durango. Bread comes from Louis Swiss Pastry in Aspen, and the coffee is supplied by Local Coffee House in Aspen and Rock Canyon Coffee of Basalt. There’s also an herb garden in the yard behind the restaurant that is used in-season.

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Social media: @thecarbondalebeat


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