Jonson Kuhn | North Forty News
They say all good things must end, but for Alan and Jackie Jantzen, that’s not so much the case.
The Jantzens announced earlier in July that they would be the new proud owners of Laporte’s staple diner Vern’s Place, which has roots in northern Colorado going back over 80 years. But before that, in 2021, the couple purchased yet another cherished NoCo location, the Silver Grill, which has had a presence in Fort Collins for 90 years.
“I believe it’s great for the community to have places like these, they’re so unique, so diverse, and serve a purpose,” Alan said.
Alan is from Nebraska, and Jackie is from North Dakota, they first met in Fort Collins while working in a restaurant of all places; Alan was cooking for the Moot House, and Jackie was serving while both were working with the restaurant group Hot Corner Concepts.
After dating for 25 years, they finally tied the knot six years ago, and together they manage a 42-acre farm outside of Loveland where they breed horses, which speaks volumes of the work ethic the two have always relied on for success.
“The day that I met Jackie, she had three jobs,” Alan said. “I’ve always worked full time, mostly two jobs. Jackie’s career path eventually took her to being the human resources specialist with Group Publishing in Loveland.”
Alan stayed with Hot Corner Concepts for several years to continue helping the company build its brands. Having started his career as a food and beverage manager for a small hotel chain in Greeley, he learned the art of running successful businesses early.
After working his way up to director of operations for Hot Corner Concepts, he eventually felt like it was time to branch out on his own. With the experience of running kitchens at 19 years old, Alan understood the industry and why they were important to him.
“It’s always been the people,” Alan said. “Serving people has been something that Jackie and I have always done. We like doing it, and to be able to do it starting with the Silver Grill, a place that I’ve always loved eating at, and then to come to Vern’s and serve this group of people as guests and the staff, it’s just a real treat. It’s the best of all worlds. We get to host a party every day and to do it with friends. That’s pretty fun.”
With Vern’s Place and Silver Grill both being well-known for their cinnamon rolls, Alan said he’s not only enjoyed watching the debate over the years as to which cinnamon roll reigns supreme, but he also looks forward to now being able to allow the debate to continue by honoring the recipes of both by leaving them just as they’ve always been.
“I think they’re both great, and it’s such a fun debate to have,” Alan said. “Having these two vastly different approaches, everyone thinks a cinnamon roll is just a cinnamon roll, but these are completely different looks of the same thing and we’re never going to change that. We want the debate to continue. We want everyone to enjoy their favorite just like they’ve enjoyed them for the last 30 or 40 years.”
Along with cinnamon rolls, Alan said they’ve left many other details the same with both locations, adding that the few things that have changed have only gone to more quickly serve their loyal patrons the same great food they’ve come to love over the years. Alan said they’ve replaced paper tickets with screens that allow the staff to serve food more efficiently to their guests, which Alan said ultimately allows for an all-around better experience.
“This particular system that we use, everything is tied together, everything from our front door seating application to the kitchen to our cashiers, so it allows for a more seamless and faster experience,” Alan said. “We were able to keep that feeling of the diner that’s 50 years old but taking some of those faster, more efficient cooking methods and using those upfront. Everybody’s favorites are still on the menu. We want to be able to provide more people the opportunity to find their favorites.”
In addition to keeping the diner feel, Alan said they also managed to keep the same management team through the transition, as well, while bringing on Alan’s longtime working partner Paul Hudson as the general manager.
For now, Alan said the plan is to stay focused on putting new energy into the two NoCo locations while planning for fun projects in the future. Still, acquiring more restaurants over time is never out of the question.
“I could definitely see adding more to the family and creating more opportunity for our team to have more for them, as well, but boy, it’s hard to beat when you have two places like Vern’s and Silver Grill. What an amazing portfolio already,” Alan said. “We’re honored and proud to be part of both of those communities as we always have from when we first met 30 years ago. We’re going to work really hard to make sure that they remain the places that everyone wants them to be and remains part of those communities.”