Quality time is described as one of the five love languages, but couples must figure out how much time is best. For couples who work together, that can be challenging.
Oftentimes, work dominates conversation and decision making at home. Disagreements from home linger at work, or vice versa. The couple coordinates work schedules around children or other responsibilities, while also trying to find time for date nights.
Then again, who better to work alongside than someone who has the same values, goals, interests, motivations and work ethic?
“Sometimes, it’s fun working together,” Dustin Barrett said. “Sometimes, it’s not.”
Dustin and Amy Barrett own and operate Tables, a restaurant in Denver’s Park Hill area, and Amy said she couldn’t have done it during the last two years with anyone else.
“He’s the only person I’d be in business with,” she said.
Ali and Dave Meyers, who both teach at Evergreen High School, said they appreciate having someone who understands stories about work and can offer professional advice.
“I’m very happy with my life, and I’m very happy with my wife,” Dave said.
Justin and Tyler Fukae have been working shoulder to shoulder lately at their Georgetown store, Sabel. Tyler recently left his full-time job, and since then, he and Justin have been prioritizing Sabel and quality time as a couple.
They’ve found their personalities and backgrounds perfectly complement each other. Justin focuses more on customer interaction and merchandise curation, and Tyler handles the store’s bookkeeping and management.
“It’s like, `Look at what we created together,’” Justin said. “We see both of ourselves in it. I don’t think the store could run without both of us.”
Amanda and Ryan Cooper, who run Cooper’s on the Creek in Georgetown, said they try not to let work impact their home life and vice versa. But, they acknowledged, the two are ultimately one and the same.
“I think strong partners in life make strong business partners,” Ryan said. “Both kinds disagree, but you get through it because you have come to a consensus.”
Amy and Dustin Barrett’s wedding registry included items they wanted for their restaurant, Tables. The two opened the chic American eatery at 2267 Kearney St. in 2005 and were married a few months later.
The two met while working at Denver’s Strings restaurant, where Amy hired Dustin. When they initially opened Tables, the two were in the kitchen together, but Amy moved to more front-of-house duties when they had their daughter.
The Barretts, who live a few blocks away from Tables, said every evening at the restaurant is unique. There’s an adrenaline rush to the business, Amy explained, as variables evolve throughout the night.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent employment and supply chain crunches have been some of the toughest challenges they’ve ever faced in their working lives. Amy said it’s been even more difficult than when Tables first opened, and it’s required a lot of problem solving, Dustin added.
Still, they’d rather work together than work for anyone else, the Barretts said.
They understand each other’s decisions, and there’s an existing level of trust between them, Amy said.
While Dustin said he’s seen other couples’ relationships suffer from working together, he and Amy have accepted that their work lives and home lives are intertwined.
“This place is part of us,” Dustin said of Tables.
Chemistry in biology class
Evergreen’s Ali and Dave Meyers say they have more in common than just biology.
They’re both former college athletes, and they both love outdoor activities.
The two met 18 years ago while working at Evergreen High School. Ali, who’s an EHS alumna, described how they were initially friends until Dave asked her out. Now, they’ve been married 12 years and have two children.
And though they work at the same school, the two don’t really work together. He and Ali work with their respective students and have minimal interaction throughout the school day.
Still, the biggest hurdle has been scheduling, they said.
Dave, who teaches honors and AP biology, described how they’ll have parent-teacher conferences at the same time and need to find someone to watch their children. However, having the same work schedule also means they have the same days off.
Ali, a former biology teacher who’s now an intervention specialist, said being in the same profession means she and Dave have the same values. They’ve ultimately helped each other become better teachers.
“My life is here; it doesn’t feel like a job,” she said. “My friends and family are here. My community is here.”
Feeling like home
After being busy with work, school and military service, Lakewood’s Justin and Tyler Fukae wanted to start a business together.
The two met almost five years ago in New Orleans. Justin moved frequently for military service, but once he was discharged, the two started Sabel last year.
The store at 507 Taos St. in Georgetown offers sustainable yet practical wares, and the Fukaes are opening a second location on Denver’s South Pearl Street.
Before leaving his job last month, Tyler worked on Sabel in his spare time. Now, they’re enjoying working side by side in Georgetown and wonder how the second location will impact that dynamic.
Tyler said he’s enjoyed seeing a side of Justin he usually doesn’t — in his element at Sabel.
For anyone looking to start a business with their significant other, Justin recommended: “It’s about knowing your talents, about respecting them, and trusting that they’ll do their part.”
Stars align over Clear Creek
If someone had asked Georgetown’s Amanda and Ryan Cooper 15 years ago if they could work together, they would’ve said “no.”
But, as Amanda said, “It’s different when it’s your livelihood and something you build together.”
The Coopers have worked in the service and hospitality industry their entire careers and met 19 years ago while working at a San Diego restaurant. They married 12 years ago and moved to Denver, where Amanda is from.
In September 2015, they were asked to consult for someone opening a restaurant in Georgetown and were eventually invited to run it. They decided they would do it if everything fell into place, and it did.
The building’s major renovations were completed, the funding came through and Cooper’s on the Creek opened in July 2016. Amanda serves as the general manager, while Ryan makes Colorado-inspired American fare as the executive chef.
With two kids, Amanda’s worked from home as needed, so she and Ryan aren’t always at work simultaneously. She said operating the restaurant together, though, requires constant support, reciprocal respect and compromise.
“We’re lucky,” Ryan said. “Not everybody can work together like this.”