March 10, 2014

Three Updates re: The Trident Cafe & Booksellers in Boulder, Colorado.

trident cafe boulder

Original context here: 

Updates: The Trident Café & Booksellers: Mike Smith & End of an Era?


Via Carolanne:

Hello Folks,

Thank you so much for contributing your gentle and passionate reminders on the value of Mike Smith at the Trident Cafe. Some of us had a meeting tonight with the current owners, Ashkon and Noah. Since the meeting was rather sudden, Mike was not there. We plan on meeting with Mike in the near future. Noah will take up the role as general manager in a weeks time. Mike will be working in the Trident this week. Please drop by and say hello to Mike. Ann has a community journal in progress behind the book desk.

As Ashkon and Noah explained it, despite the respect that all of these men share for one another they could not come to an agreement on the direction of the Trident into the future. Noah and Ashkon feel that the Trident’s economic survival is dependent on Noah and Ashkon implementing their ideas with out Mike who seems resistant to them. Both Ashkon and Noah seem very hopeful and willing that Mike come back to the Trident in some capacity in the future.

We all wish that there was a way that Mike would be able to remain in place at the Trident. That is not going to happen. I look forward to speaking with Mike to understand his thinking on the change.

Noah, Shawhin (he has the contacts for younger Trident folks)  and I will keep in touch as the Trident moves forward. Your emails made a huge difference to both Ashkon and Noah in re enforcing our desire to keep Mike as an active force in the Trident. Unfortunately, Noah did receive some counter productive hateful emails, but the ones focused on our support of Mike shone through.

Please forward this on to anyone who has been involved in this process.

I hope we all can show our spirit of generosity to Ashkon and particularly, Noah in hopes that he proves to be a welcome addition to Mike’s continuing contribution.

~ Carolanne


Via my discussion with Daniel Gritz (finally, someone willing to go on record), another perspective to round things out more.

“Waylon: not to be a hater, but there is some significant factors in the Trident sale that seem to have been redford, trident, cafe, boulder, coloradooverlooked in perspective. Trident has an opportunity to be a Phoenix—same bird, new life.

I appreciate all sentiments in favor of Mike Smith. He has run that joint for a long time. Nearly all his employees would admit he has been something of a father figure, including myself.
One thing that is [relevant] is the fact that a handful of employees in the business have been there 15 years without ever seeing a raise. While it is not public information as to who will be taking a leadership role in the business, it would appear that some people are finally going to be rewarded for their hard work and dedication.
Also, the ownership of that company has never been able to agree on one thing in over 15 years. I feel like the stubbornness of too many strongly opinionated owners has prevented any positive development in the Trident.
While one of the greatest things about the Trident is that its never changes, it will have to to compete in the downtown marketplace. I feel confident that the ownership and future management will appreciate the balance between respecting the Trident as the age-old icon it is, and blowing a fresh gust through the place in a way everyone knows is right.
Let’s be clear, we all love Mike Smith and have a tremendous amount of respect for him, but if he can’t come to terms with handing over the reins to his children/heirs then why did he lead in the first place?”
robert mann dutch killsVia Mike’s stepson, whom he raised, Robert, a best friend of mine:“Hey brother. I know there has been some mixed feelings around the Mike/Trident situation. These are my thoughts if you feel they may ease some people.I was lucky enough to grow up with Mike and call him my father. I’m 33 years old and Mike has worked at the Trident for 32 of those years…He raised me in his house. He raised my older brother, and he is the blood father to my sister.I spent my enter childhood being taught right from wrong by this man. Over the years, one of the lovely things I’ve heard from many people who worked at the Trident was how Mike was (and still is) like a father they never had. Being his live-in, day-in and day-out son through my teens, I always took pride in knowing that his teachings and wisdom had a proper place to be given beyond our doors. Our family comes from a lineage of students and teachers.The Trident has always been a beautiful place for people to work, earn money, and has had a wonderful elder at the ship’s head, guiding people to be mindful, direct, and most importantly kind.

With that said, the hardship of the situation is painful, to say the least. This is clearly a strange time and some adjusting will need to take place. I know people in the community are sad right now. I know this is a change that will affect the community and that is obviously sad.

But I think it’s important to say that in all the wonderful teachings I’ve received from my father Mike, it is most imperative in this time that we all walk with grace. Hold our minds. Be polite. Smile if you have to.

This is where we are. We have a choice to be kind even in the darkest of times. Yes, this is unarguably an end of an era.

But it’s also the opening for a new one. We as a community know how to take care of one another. Let’s remember to do that.

To all of the people who have expressed their love and sorrows for the situation and have shared stories; as one of Mike’s three children I’d like to thank you.

Mike is an amazing person, teacher, poet, father… And I, among many others, will always be grateful for the amazing time at the Trident he taught, worked, joked, played, philosophized, and then joked some more. And I promise, as his son, Mike will be just fine.

Long live the Trident! It will always be a great place.” ~ Robert Mann



My personal postscript: So what now?

It’s done. I offer the New Trident best wishes, and I know that many of the changes are good changes. I know that at least two of the employees will be compensated better than they have been. I know that the loss of Mike is something I can not abide by, and I am a man of honor, and I do not see an honorable way to continue to call the New Trident home. It has been a home and office, a refuge in bad times and a container for joy in good times. So I say thank you, and I bow on my way out.

Sure, I’ll come by occasionally, there’s been enough drama. But I do not plan on going intentionally, on biking downtown from my house with Red and getting an Americano with friendly jokes and talk with Mahk and Mick and Tom and Crystal and Mike and all the others over the years.

That chapter is gone, now.

Innisfree Cafe & Poetry Bookstore (plus Buchanan’s, which it bought and renovated recently) will be my home, now–Brian is a saint among cafe owners and managers. And they serve Conscious Coffee, the most mindful brew in Boulder.


This poem is somehow, fitting today, a day when I say thank you to my community and “office” of 11 years.

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