Summit County businesses revamp, tell their stories, spread love through food

Sam Pines interacts with customers at the Dillon Farmers Market on Friday July 1, 2022. Sam Pines began his business, Pines' Nut Butter, in January 2020.
Elaine Collins/Courtesy photo

Pines’ Nut Butter

Sam Pines said the motto for his company, Pines Nut Butter, is perfectly encapsulated by the peace sign that dots the “i” on all of his products. The motto is: “Spread peace, love and nut butter.” 

Pines started his business in January 2020, after many years of enjoying the snack and making jars at home for loved ones. Now, Pines is selling at multiple farmers’ markets around the state, as well as mom-and-pop shops in Summit County. He soon hopes to appear on the shelves of Natural Grocers and Whole Foods. 

But Pines isn’t only an entrepreneur. 

Pines moved to Summit County in October 2019 to teach fifth grade. Ever since he’s worked at Breckenridge Elementary School working on his hobby whenever he had time. 

When the pandemic hit Summit County, Pines said he had the time to focus on nut butter.

“I started spending more time with recipes, dialing it in, and that’s when I realized that I could start a business doing this,” he said.

However, Pines’ Nut Butter wouldn’t have made this far it if not for the help and love of the Summit County community. Pines makes all of his products at Baker’s Brewery, and the label — the one with the peace sign — was designed by Summit High School student Kylie Breigenzer.  

Pines sells everything from plain peanut butter priced at $6, to almond butter at $10, and his personal favorite, cashew butter, also priced at $10. He also makes specialty and seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice peanut butter, coconut chocolate peanut butter and maple cinnamon almond butter, priced at $15. 

To show his appreciation, Pines offers a $2 discount to locals and will offer $1 off if you bring back a clean glass jar for him to refill.

“How I spread love is giving people a product that is healthy and nutritious because in order to take care of others you need to take care of yourself,” Pines said. 

His products are available online at, and he can also be found at the Dillon, Vail, Steamboat and Breckenridge farmers’ markets. 

Climax Jerky

Climax Jerky is not a new business, but it’s one with a deeply rooted history in Summit County. 

Brooke Comai, the owner, founder and president of Climax Jerky, set up a jerky stand on Fremont Pass the very last weekend in May 1999 and made a life out of it. 

When Comai’s best friend in the 90s started selling beef jerky in Kremmling, sourcing supplies from a wholesale distributor, she told Comai to come check it out.

Comai said she always thought she’d own a business but maybe a restaurant — not a beef jerky stand. Nevertheless, she checked it out. 

“I just was like, you know, what do I have to lose? If it doesn’t work out I can always go back to waiting or bartending.” 

A few weeks later, she came back from a vacation and told her boss she was quitting her job to start a beef jerky stand on Fremont Pass.

Though it may seem like a random place to set up a beef jerky stand, Comai said she chose the spot intentionally. “It’s a scenic byway, so you’ve got a ton of people just driving to go see Aspen, or Buena Vista or Leadville, and it’s at the top of the pass, so people slow down,” Comai said. 

Eventually, Comai made enough money as a waitress during the winter and a beef jerky salesman during the summer that she bought out the beef jerky distributor.

Comai and her family now have a permanent location in Breckenridge at the corner of Main Street and Lincoln and work farmers’ markets and events on the weekends. The Fremont Pass location is still making her and her family money.

Climax Jerky started with only 12 different types of jerky, but they are now selling over 20 different types from alligator to elk to the classic beef jerky.

Comai said the most popular jerkies are smoked elk, original buffalo, spicy elk and honey-glazed beef. The buffalo and elk both come in around $17 for a 3-ounce bag and the traditional beef is $11.30 for a 4-ounce bag. 

Bundles, subscriptions and shopping can be found at

The Fremont location is open Friday afternoons from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Their Breckenridge location is open seven days week, from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Quandary Tequila Bistro 

This business is also a well-renowned food service in Summit County, but it’s just recently come out of a two-month hiatus with a different name and a whole new look. 

Quandary Tequila Bistro, formerly known as Quandary Grill, opened its doors 22 years ago, so owner Tim Applegate said it was time for an update. 

“We needed a refresh,” he said. “As I joke with customers, we needed to replace the beer lines, so in the process we did it all.”

The bar has been moved and extended to 40 feet, with a wall of over 200 tequilas behind it. Applegate said they also revamped all of the furniture, replacing both the tables and chairs inside and the picnic tables that used to be on the patio. 

“We wanted to upscale everything a bit, that was the main concept behind it,” Applegate said.

To go along with the updated atmosphere, there are more wine, steak and seafood options on the menu. They now offer a bison flank steak with chimichurri for $38 or grilled Atlantic salmon for $32.

When it comes to drinks, there is still beer on tap, but Applegate said there is a new and already well-loved signature silver margarita.

It’s a clear margarita priced at $18 made with Don Felano, a blanco tequila. They also offer plenty of the classic cocktails like an old fashioned or a negroni, but with a twist — they use tequila as the base. 

While much of the cuisine has stayed the same, Applegate said he was most excited to add tacos to the menu. Tacos are priced anywhere from $4 to $7. All of the tortillas are made in Denver and there are vegetarian, seafood, and steak options available for both lunch and dinner. 

The menu can be found at

Quandary Tequila Bistro is located at 505 S. Main Street in Breckenridge. It’s open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

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