I love creating an experience that resonates with people, leaving joy and laugher lingering in the air, providing lasting comfort and good memories.
I moved to Estes Park in 1996 to fulfill the dream of living in a mountain town after college before real life started. I took my first restaurant job, and I liked it. I realized I could change someone’s day with a smile, kind words, or gestures. For 20 years, I worked at two restaurants in Estes and pursued my passion for rock climbing. I dreamt about having my own place. After missed opportunities and negotiations falling apart, the right location became available, which raised the anti—this old establishment was not even winterized. Getting the funds to remodel was the biggest challenge as I tried convincing people to see the big picture I was attempting to deliver. April 2, 2017 I suffered a sever electric accident almost losing my life and parts of my hands doing designs on tables from the previous restaurant adding unreasonable hardships to overcome. Six months later, the doors were open, and my dreams came true, but I still faced more surgeries and had to learn how to live with my new hands. Working on Bird & Jim helped me recover, giving me something else to focus on rather than what I lost and had to overcome. Every day I get to live is a gift, putting my heart and soul into delivering hospitality and thoughtful ingredient-driven delicious food, uniting our community in our beautiful Bird & Jim. I have learned how to live with my new hands, from work to excelling at rock climbing again, turning pain and hardship into strength. ❤️ Melissa Strong
Way back in 1996, I began my first job in the restaurant industry. Back then, restaurant jobs were not taken as seriously by me or the general public. Times have changed since then of course and my passion in the restaurant industry led me to focus on wine. After attending Sommelier classes with the International Sommelier Guild and beginning my journey as a Sommelier, I knew that this was the career for me. Fast forward several years later, I lucked upon finding out beautiful home of Estes Park. Dreams became reality when Melissa and I teamed up in 2017 to open Bird and Jim. I want to thank the community for supporting our dreams and helping our business grow in ways I could have never imagined. I feel very privileged to live in such a beautiful place and be able to operate a successful business while enjoying my passions for the outdoors and running.
Thomas moved from New York in 2000 to Vail, Colorado. Upon relocating to the Denver Metro area. Thomas became involved with independent restaurateurs within the Denver Metro area with the most recent at the Warwick Hotel and Resorts, as part of the remold team and opening of Gattara restaurant, and Perfect Landing Restaurant as executive chef. Was part of the opening team at Guard and Grace as executive sous chef. Opened Blackbird restaurant, an upscale venture as Executive Chef. Served as VP of Production in a start-up venture at Fresh Takes Kitchen; Overseeing order fulfillment to included menu design, procurement, kitchen operations, and cost management associated with production and distribution.
Thomas also served as Director of Operations for Revolution Foods in Colorado. As director of operations, Thomas instituted production systems, managed vendor relationships, team building that supported Revolutions Foods market growth.
Prior, Thomas was a part of Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group as Sous Chef and Executive. During Thomas’ seven year tenure at Vail resorts, Thomas served as Sous Chef, Chef de Cuisine, and Executive Chef.
Thomas has spent 22 years in the hospitality / restaurant industry with 18 of those years in executive chef positions and leadership roles. Thomas was classically trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Prior to his extensive culinary career, he served in the United States Marine Corps.
Thomas maintains the foundation of classical cooking techniques with contemporary, and modern overtones embracing local ingredients when possible with seasonal influences, driving innovation. In Thomas’ spare time he enjoys reading, exercising and spending time with family and friends.
Bird & Jim
My name is Ross Lynn and I was born and raised in Powell, Wyoming. Growing up working at the family steakhouse I realized my passion for hospitality and working with people. After graduating high school, I attended the Sheridan College in nearby Sheridan, Wyoming and graduated with an associate in Hospitality Management. From there I pursued my passion and attended The University of Nevada, Las Vegas and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Hotel Administration. While developing my craft I was lucky enough to gain incredible experiences that would go on to help shape my future. I returned to Wyoming in 2012 and accepted the Hospitality Management Faculty position at Sheridan College. For eight years, I taught lecture courses three days a week and facilitated the Wyoming Culinary Institute the other two. Creating food curriculum and getting to be part of student success were the best parts of my job. Unfortunately, in March of 2020, the world was forced to change in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. As I like to say, it is the ending of a chapter, not the ending of a book. And as one adventure ends, something new can begin. In March of 2022, Melissa, John, and Chef Thomas, welcomed me to the Bird & Jim family. It has been a great first year and I look forward to many more!
Born and raised in Colorado, I started my culinary career as a dishwasher. After 16 years in the culinary field, I finally found a home at Bird and Jim as the Chef De Cuisine.
Throughout my travels, I had the opportunity to work for Holland Princess America Tours as a cook working on the Alaska Railroad. The train was based in Anchorage Alaska and would travel across the state to Denali and Fairbanks all in one day. This allowed me to experience the vast beauty of Alaska and grow my culinary skills.
In the summer 2014 Hard Rock Café opened a branch in Anchorage and I was able to be apart of the opening staff. During my time at Hard Rock Café, I was promoted to kitchen manager and eventually Sous Chef.
After many years of traveling I came back to Colorado and joined the Bird and Jim team in July of 2021 under Chef Thomas. With his guidance and vast knowledge of the culinary arts, I have been able to explore and create many new dishes that I am extremely proud to call my own. I’m excited to be part of the Bird and Jim team and see where the future takes us.
My name is Ricardo Fernàndez i was born in LA —in Compton, CA. I never worked at a restaurant until I moved to Colorado. I found out I loved to work in the kitchen at Ed’s Cantina here in Estes. I decided to go to culinary school and took a job at Bird & Jim. I love working at Bird & Jim because it is awesome working with Chef Ethan and learning new things every day and working with new foods, flavors and ingredients. I also love the staff! There we are like a family always looking out for each other and having each other’s backs. I am really happy being a Chef and kitchen manager at Bird & Jim and cannot wait to get cooking again soon!
My name is Skye and I am the bar manager at Bird & Jim in Estes Park, Colorado. I am a 4th generation Coloradoan from my father’s side and my mother is fully Scottish, born and raised. Perhaps my namesake was indicative of future interests and career pursuits?
At a young age I spent several years overseas (Scotland, England, Germany primarily) immersed in different cultures and cuisines, experimenting with foods native to the region, and soaking in historical features. I was very lucky for these experiences and it will always hold a special place in my memories.
My first job in the restaurant industry was in my middle school years, bussing tables at a local diner in Monument, CO for money to buy snowboards. I have worked all aspects of the restaurant (back of house, front of house, management, et al) but finally found my calling when I was given the opportunity to bartend in my twenties. An affinity for scotch being an original curiosity, then grew to a desire to learn the history and composition of American bourbon and whiskey.
The entirety of Bird & Jim is far more than just a place to eat and drink (albeit a fine one at that!), but a collective of caring people who come together to generate an entire experience, for both the customers and ourselves. I have never felt such a genuine family and community connection as I have experienced here over the years. That is indubitably what sets Bird & Jim apart from others and it is evident upon stepping inside. This is my calling and I will thoroughly enjoy calling it my career for many years to come!
I love being a part of the Bird & Jim team because it is more than a job it is a family. I have known some of the staff for several years--it is great stating close with these amazing people. I have been in the restaurant industry for more than 10 years working in each area from dishwasher to actually a server! I love interacting with the costumers and I am able to make good friends. I am from Mexico and I have two children, both of them work at the restaurant. It is very nice for me as a Mom to teach my kids the difference between being a Mom and a coworker and we have fun also 😍. All of my co-workers, including myself, have had hard times in our lives and we try to support each other with a hug, advice, with a ride home but I have never seen a situation like this and it is amazing the support we have from the owners and to every member of our team. The good thing about hard times is knowing who is on our side and be grateful for that love. Love you Estes Park, love you Bird & Jim ❤️.
Hi my name is Brandi Lee, I was born in Chicago Illinois, but moved around a lot due to being a military brat. My family currently lives in Texas. After receiving my Bachelors in fine arts at Savanah college of art and design, I thought I would be staying in Georgia, but realized I’m not much of a city person. So, with the suggestions of my aunt and uncle I decided to relocated to Colorado to try out small town living. When I first moved to Estes I worked at hotel, but then a close friend told me about Bird &Jim and I applied! I’ve never really worked in a restaurant to this magnitude until now. I love working at Bird & Jim because it allows me the flexibility to work on my freelance art while still making a great income. I’ve also had great opportunities to showcase my art for Bird & Jim. The people at Bird & Jim are a beautiful mixing pot of unique and fun personalities. That’s the main thing for me that makes every new year here that much more fun to look forward to!
Hello my name is Jeremy and I am a foodie. Let me take you back, if you will allow me, to where my passion for food, good food, arose. My first job at age twelve was as a bus boy at the Aspen lodge. Through the years I worked every position in the restaurant, eventually serving as a banquet chef. In my mid twenties I moved to Steamboat, working on trail crew and in a ski shop. I found myself dissolutioned by my consumer choices until I read a couple of books that changed the way I looked at those choices and how they affected the world around me. The first book was The Secret History of the American Empire by John Perkins. This sequel to the bestseller Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, professed in no uncertain terms that your only real vote is your consumer dollar, that consumer demand drives all future production, and that the true cost of cheap foreign goods has been externalized so the third world as well as the environment is left holding the bill. The second book was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. This story of a year of eating locally inspired my own locavore year. My conclusion was that in good conscience I could no longer support multinational corporations or factory farmed food. In eating only locally (Colorado) and sustainably produced food for an entire year I found that there really wasn’t anyone farming vegetables in my area and that I would have to grow my own. I had kept a small garden in the past but wanted to go bigger. That summer I planted a large storage garden. It was so successful that I thought why not share the bounty and give market gardening a go. In the fall I tilled up about a half an acre. In the spring I erected a tunnel greenhouse, and planted my field with over 30 varieties of vegetables. So began my journey as an organic farmer. For the next decade I worked diligently to provide excellent organic food to the community and facilitate the creation of a more robust local food scene founding the Yampa Valley Local Food Forum, giving lectures at Colorado Mountain College, and educating the community though farm tours and farm to table dinners. In the spring of 2015 I moved back home to Estes working around the valley as a handyman and sawyer.
So you can imagine that when Melissa told me of her plan to open a farm to table restaurant here, I dropped what I was doing and signed up. For me there is not a lot that is more important than local food. Chef Ethan shares this passion with me and it has been inspiring to watch his dedication and hard work support farms and farmers up and down the front range and mountain valleys. I spent my first year at Bird and Jim in the kitchen running the pantry station and have now transitioned to the front of house. I love using my experience and extensive knowledge of the ingredients to create a unique and educational guest experience. I am so proud to be a part of this team and its mission! Estes is such an amazing outlet and a restaurant like this has been a long time coming. Melissa, John, and Ethan have created a work environment that is truly special- inclusive, understanding, educational, and feels like family. Beyond that the food, wine, and whiskey are really good.
I am a self proclaimed "lifer" in the service industry. I started serving to pay for college and quickly realized that hospitality is my calling. Hospitality to me is when the dining room or the bar that I'm working at becomes my home. The guests become my closest family and friends that have come over for a great night. I love being a part of building memorable, fun dining experiences.
I fell in love with wine because of how much it elevates dining. The experience of a flawless wine service, the smell, and most of all pairing with incredible food became an obsession for me. I decided to take courses through Sommelier Guild and WSET. I am grateful that I have had amazing mentors along the way. I am lucky to have the opportunity to work with such an extensive wine list at Bird & Jim.
I fell in love with Estes Park when I first moved to Colorado. We moved here from Bangkok, Thailand so it was a huge change. I remember the awe that I felt when I saw giant elk for the firt time. Now I try to remember that when I'm waiting for them to cross the road.
When I was living in Fort Collins, my husband got a job opportunity that led us to Estes Park. I was so excited. My husband and I came to Bird & Jim for our anniversary shortly after moving here. I immediatly decided this is where I want to be. Since working here, I have had coworkers become lifelong friends. It is a privilege having the opportunity to learn and grow from such a talented and knowledgeable team.
Now that Estes Park has become our home there is no where else that I would rather be. When I'm not at work you can find me at the dog park, or out walking Squirrel - the amazing pittie we adopted. I'm a huge dog lover so much of my free time is dedicated to being a dog mom.
I consider myself lucky because I truly love my job. I am fulfilled and happy among friends. From our awesome locals who it had been a blast getting to know to the people visiting our beautiful town. This is my dream job and I'm happy to be here.
I work at Bird & Jim because I love to serve, to host a good party, to smooth through 5 things at once. Together, we dine with grace and fun. Some days I have my head down and some days I have my heart out. I am so grateful this place is here. I miss my townies. Thank you, Thomas, John and Melissa for making great.