Community Profile: Shop owner seeks to showcase Colfax’s charm

By: Michael Kirby
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Everyone knows a straight line is the shortest distance between two points, but somehow Elan Vitkoff wasn’t exactly paying attention. Vitkoff’s journey to the foothills, becoming a businesswoman and unofficial city ambassador was filled with many twists and turns. Along the way she made decisions and took action never knowing that each one would eventually lead her to Colfax, a place she would fall in love with and call home. Vitkoff is of Bulgarian and Macedonian descent and born in Lebanon to very hardworking laboring parents. Her elegant European accent gives way to the obvious observation that she is not a native of Colfax or the foothills, though her strong commitment to her adopted city is apparent by spending just a few minutes with the vivacious and energetic Vitkoff. Vitkoff’s father Ivan was very proud and hard working man, caring for his family working as a farmer and sheepherder. “My dad’s biggest wish was to come to America,” said Vitkoff. Immigration to America was hard for the Vitkoff family, but Vitkoff’s father somehow managed to fulfill his dream of bringing his family to the United States. “My father bought land by mail, two acres, in Albuquerque, New Mexico in a place called Rio Rancho Estates, sight un-scene,” said Vitkoff. “He saw an ad that said, “buy land by mail,” and they sent him pictures of tying your horse next to the Rio Grande River and catching fish for lunch. He signed up,” she said. The Vitkoff family applied for immigration in 1955 and owning land in the United States helped their immigration situation, but it still took 11 years to get to America. In 1966, just after Vitkoff’s mother Karafilia unfortunately passed away, her family moved to New Mexico. Vitkoff has always been dedicated to achieve success. “I’ve got to have passion, and a mission,” she said. An artist for a time in the late 1960s, then a certified massage therapist led her into chiropractic school and thriving chiropractic practices in Marin County and San Francisco. Taking weekend breaks from the City, making visits to good friends in Christian Valley, Vitkoff retired from her chiropractic practice and moved to Weimar in 2007, after falling in love with the foothills. In 2009, Vitkoff bought the historic Downtown Colfax 1880s building that housed the Colfax Pharmacy from 1956-1996, did renovations, and in August 2009 opened the Old Pharmacy Tea & Coffee Shop, serving a variety of interesting foods — morning delights to go with a variety of coffee and teas, sandwiches and salads for lunch and a dinner menu of internationally themed dinner entrees. Her popular Greek House Special includes, dolmas, falafel and humus, and tops the dinner menu. Vitkoff plans to bring authentic gyro sandwiches to the pharmacy in the near future. A variety of live music and cultural events fill the Old Pharmacy on weekends, and wine tastings and community talks are on the calendar. A selection of wines and international beers are also available. “My goal is to find a need and fill it,” said Vitkoff. Currently Vitkoff’s goal is to promote Colfax, and bring more people to visit Colfax. She has organized wine tours that start in Colfax, is a member of the Colfax Area Chamber of Commerce and the Colfax Area Historic Society, and attends Auburn Chamber of Commerce meetings touting the charms of Colfax. “By luck or flow of life, I’m planted in Colfax for life,” Vitkoff said. Vitkoff lives in Colfax with her 14-year-old daughter Sophie.