After living in Blue Diamond for 11 years, Steve Enger and Jody Lyman are finally getting to know their neighbors. And they only had to open a restaurant to do it.

Their Cottonwood Station Eatery, which opened in mid-April, is not only a place to get a meal (with good coffee) in the little village of 290 residents, but also a gathering spot — something they felt was missing.

“Every small town has a social platform,” Enger said.

They started thinking about the project several years ago. As the avid mountain bikers and hikers traveled around the world, they took note of what made each community gathering spot special and borrowed a few ideas. Inspired by a place in Bend, Oregon, they installed a heated 40-foot concrete bench on the deck for chilly winter nights. Broad expanses of glass let in lots of natural light.

Enger said the idea for a restaurant had been discussed over a decade; a large part of the reason earlier dreams weren’t realized was neighborhood opposition. People move to Blue Diamond for the slower pace, the views of the desert and Red Rock National Conservation area. They like the fact that instead of traffic, they hear the melodies of the coyote and burro, and that they can see the stars at night. Enger and Lyman wanted to be sensitive to that.

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