Kids’ Corner:
Buckaroos, Slices & Scoops

By Linda White

[Montrose Colo. | January 2020 | San Juan Silver Stage | by Linda White]

Although the menu has expanded to include hot sandwiches, soup, and chili, a hot slice of pizza and a double scoop of Farr’s ice cream are the mainstays of Buckaroos Slices and Scoops. The business, located at 1518 East Main Street, the realization of an idea—a dream—and the LaJoy family which owns it acts on dreams.

Cindy and Dominick LaJoy moved to Montrose in 1996 to a large, empty house. Over a period of 10 years, they filled their home with five children: Josh, Matt, Angela, Olesya, and Kenny. The children, now young adults, came to the LaJoys from the other side of the world—Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in the former Soviet Union. At the time, they ranged in age from 11 months to 8 years old. Three of the children have developmental delays that present their parents with special challenges.

Eastern Europe knows a cold unlike Colorado, and these children may have had a destiny of survival only. Kenny’s early years at the orphanage were bleak, impacting his ability to adapt to public school. After three years, home schooling was chosen for all five children who succeeded—enjoying sports, parties, and proms—and graduated with full diplomas. While Matt pursues a career in computers, his four siblings work together managing Buckaroos.

In Montrose, as all over the world, parents worry about a future for loved ones when not chaperoned by educational or familial structures. As an accredited Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators (ACRE) coach, Cindy LaJoy understands the employment limitations for people with disabilities and the need to give them a chance to work, hence the sign over the kitchen: “Pizza with a purpose for people with potential!”

Hiring those with intellectual challenges and development delays, Buckaroos Slices and Scoops uses sweet treats and yummy pizza as a vehicle to create community for those who are often left in the shadows. Through the business, the LaJoys provide meaningful work and critical opportunities for young people to have a chance to contribute to society and fill that desire to be truly seen and valued.

Matt, Angela, Dominick, Kenny, Olesya. Courtesy photo.

What started out as a homeschool project thrives today because everyone in the family contributed, from business and construction planning to the lavender interior wall paint.

When asked who came up with the name, Olesya proudly pointed to herself. “Actually, I did.” She went on to explain, “The family first thought to do a cowboy theme, and I came up with Buckaroos. Even though the cowboy idea went by the wayside, we decided to keep Buckaroos because it sounded family-friendly and welcoming. It also went nicely with Slices and Scoops.”

About creating the store, Angela recalled, “It tests my limits, going past what I thought I could do. I look forward to bringing my experience from this store to a new one, helping train employees.”

“We had team discussions on every part of our store,” remembered Olesya, “making the plans, constructing walls, working start to finish.”

“My dad and I chose the commercial oven and installed it,” Kenny added with pride. “I want to start other businesses using everything I’ve learned. I will also continue with everyone here to work with local charities.”

And they will. Buckaroos plans to expand in the future, a future possible when these contributing members of that time and place are the workers. Like the wide-open expanse of sky and space that is Montrose and the world, the dreams and ideas of these inspirational people are sure to become reality.