Cereal Box's first year includes rainbow sprinkles and change

Community involvement key to building success, owners say

Posted 11/14/18

After a year in business, The Cereal Box is serving up hot messes, unicorn poop and community engagement in Olde Town Arvada. The eatery celebrates being a kid with 150 cereals from around the world, …

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Cereal Box's first year includes rainbow sprinkles and change

Community involvement key to building success, owners say

Posted

After a year in business, The Cereal Box is serving up hot messes, unicorn poop and community engagement in Olde Town Arvada.

The eatery celebrates being a kid with 150 cereals from around the world, 17 milks, hot chocolate and cereal milkshakes.

And it's all about mixing cereals together.

“We don't take anything too serious,” owner Michael Emmerson said. “We're just trying to be a place people can come relax and not worry about anything.”

The Cereal Box is known for its cereal mixes. The current top seller is Unicorn Poop — a mix of Lucky Charms, Trix, Froot Loops, rainbow marshmallows, whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles served with strawberry milk. But a healthier mix, Squirrel Treats — which combines Honey Bunches of Oats, Honey Nut Cheerios, Grape Nuts, walnuts and almond milk — is also popular.

The eatery's first birthday on Nov. 10 was celebrated with a party and a specialty cereal bowl — a mix of birthday cake Cookie Crisp, marshmallows and Fruity Pebbles topped with pink whipped cream and a mini-cupcake served with sugar cookie milk.

But the first year in business wasn't all rainbows and sprinkles, Emmerson said: In the beginning, the product was priced too low and too much emphasis was placed on presentation.

“We've changed a lot since we opened,” he said. “We're at that one year stage where it's make or break.”

With school back in session, the business has hit a slow season, Emmerson said. But he hopes the cold months will draw in customers for the shop's hot messes, which is cereal-topped hot chocolate. Holiday special bowls also will be rolling out soon with the option of eggnog milk and seasonal cereals.

Integrating business and community

Getting more involved in the community has also been a focus of year one.

The Cereal Box partners with Jeffco Public Schools' Transition Services program, which provides learning experiences for young adults with special needs who are 18-21. The experiences, which include learning to budget, shop, cook meals and navigate public transit, are designed to assist youth in transitioning from high school student to adult.

Olivia Urbalejo, 21, greets customers two days a week at The Cereal Box — part of a small group of students in the transition program who work at The Cereal Box to learn job skills.

“It means independence,” Urbalejo said of her work. “It's another stepping stone to do what I want to do.”

When Urbalejo graduates from the program in December she plans to study nutrition and Spanish. She also hopes to do public speaking on the side.

“We're proud of Olivia,” said Tasha Leatherman, para educator for the transitions program. “She's grown a lot and we're going to miss her.”

At The Cereal Box, students are treated like part of the regular work team. They assist in wiping tables, sweeping, mopping, shoveling snow, washing dishes, welcoming customers, explaining the process and helping to build cereal bowls.

“The ultimate goal is that our students become productive members of society,” Leatherman said. “The post-secondary skills, job skills and life skills learned in the program help them do that.”

The Cereal Box co-owner Lori Hofer said as a start-up the business couldn't give a lot financially, but becoming a partner with the schools was a great way to become part of the community.

“It took a lot of support from our friends and family to get here, so it just made sense to give back and find a way to pay that forward,” Hofer said. “Businesses can't survive without being part of the community.”

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