Alumnus, restaurant owner and CSU instructor in the Hospitality Management Program

Gabriel Armstrong in front of the Crooked CupStory by Elizabeth Holland

Gabriel Armstrong, born and raised in Fort Collins, is a CSU Ram through and through. Growing up in Fort Collins, he knew he wanted to attend Colorado State University and watched with amusement as high school friends who left the area for college returned to Northern Colorado to finish their degrees at CSU.

Armstrong graduated with a degree in hospitality management from CSU’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition in 2012 and secured a loan for his business idea quickly thereafter. He founded The Crooked Cup, a café and bakeshop serving coffee made with locally roasted beans and fresh baked goods made in-house. One store blossomed into four, and Armstrong recently added a franchise in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

When preparing cinnamon roll dough and muffin batter for each store became too demanding, Armstrong decided to open a private kitchen where all their homemade food is prepared. Other businesses started to take note of how well their kitchen was doing and wanted to purchase their food. He named his new enterprise Zoe’s Kitchen, after his daughter, and now sells his bakery items to many restaurants and cafes in town.

Armstrong’s idea for opening a coffee shop formed while discussing business ideas with Assistant Professor Eric Milholland. He realized there are only a handful of businesses that people frequent every day, and he wanted to build a loyal customer base where he could visit with his regulars, his Gabriel Armstrong serves coffee in the Crooked Cupfavorite part of the job. He loves being able to interact with people and make a difference in their lives. Whether it is teaching the younger generation about skills needed to succeed in business or just striking up a conversation with one of the thousand customers he knows by name.

By the end of 2013, Armstrong’s former CSU professors noticed how successful The Crooked Cup was and invited him to guest lecture in their classes. His passion for teaching led to his position as an industry instructor, and he now teaches a class on cost control in the hospitality management program twice a week.

Armstrong’s love and respect for CSU and Northern Colorado has led to deep roots in the community and serving the people around him with best practices. He loves rooting for the football team against all odds. Armstrong has a bright future ahead with CSU and the Crooked Cup.

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.