Cortez couple open organic grocery store on Main Street

Darrin and Melanie Dennison have opened Flat Belly Organics, Food Market at Market and Main Streets. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Darrin and Melanie Dennison have opened Flat Belly Organics, Food Market at Market and Main Streets.

A new organic grocery store and smoothie shop called Flat Belly Organics opened Wednesday on Main Street.

The store, now freshly stocked with an array of organic foods, from sugar-free chocolate chips to nuts that can be ground into butter on the spot, was drawing in the curious a day before the cash register opened.

The owners see the store filling a niche locally.

“Our hope is that people will stay in Cortez to shop for these kind of items, whether it be organic food, nongenetically modified food, vitamins, bulk items,” said co-owner Melanie Dennison.

Owners, Melanie and her husband, Darrin Dennison, are locals who returned to Cortez after 18 years in Midland, Texas.

The couple opened the Texas Flat Belly location in 2003, and seven years later they sold the business. When they returned to Colorado they brought their brand with them.

“We wanted a name that would get the conversation going about health,” she said.

For the Cortez location, the couple worked with manufacturers to design their own line of vitamins, supplements and minerals to the shelves.

The couple brought seven years of health food store experience to the line as well as a personal enthusiasm for supplements.

“We wanted to create a brand we could really stand behind and understand where it came from,” she said.

On the health-food side, the store also offers bulk nuts and grains, frozen fruit, among other products. For those with wheat allergies, the store offers a range of gluten-free products including doughnuts, pizza dough, flour and snacks.

When spring sets in, the store will carry local produce, as well.

At the smoothie bar, options include classic fruity flavors to the Nuttin’ Better, made with almond butter. The bar also offers healthy “lifts” or additives including spinach, protein and sunflower sprouts. Some add flavor, while others are tasteless like the spinach, which just brings a healthy boost to the drink.

Melanie said the smoothies are set apart because the flavors are not masked by ice cream or yogurt.

“We had a cultlike following on our smoothies,” she said.

For those who don’t find what they are looking for, the two are happy to order specialty products because the business is supplied by the same distributor as Whole Foods Market.

The new store will be open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.