Denver has its food courts and its specialty markets.
But come Sunday morning, the city will have the first place where people can buy fresh meat, produce and bread and can sit down at the same time to enjoy everything from a pizza, to a Jamaican Sour cocktail, to an ice cream croissant.
Denver Central Market, located at 2669 Larimer Street in the River North neighborhood, combines 11 businesses that will offer food and beverages for consumption at the 13,132-square-foot hall, as well as will sell grocery-style items like fresh bread, locally sourced produce and octopus flown in from Japan. All of the stations will operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, though some will open earlier for breakfast, and the Curio bar will stay open later.
Building owner Ken Wolf and restaurateur Jeff Osaka worked together to seek out and select the businesses. Some come from well-known figures in the Denver food scene, such as the Culture Meat & Cheese cured-meat restaurant and shop owned by the same group behind Old Major and Masterpiece Deli.
Others, such as The Local Butcher, are first-time ventures — in this case, from finance-expert-turned-butcher Justin Herd — that seek to offer the residents of the RiNo neighborhood food options they don’t already have.
“We didn’t want to make this one giant food court or restaurant. We wanted people to be able to buy the food here that they can use,” said Osaka, the owner of a pair of Asian-themed restaurants in the area who will operate Silva’s Fish Market at the Central Market, selling fresh salmon, striped bass and kampachi — the latter flown in from Japan — as well as serving up oysters and ceviche. “It will very much change the landscape and mindset of how people shop for food.”
Jon Robbins, operator of Temper Chocolates and Confections inside the market, notes that Denverites have taken to gathering areas like Avanti F&B — which features seven restaurants and two bars in a shared dining space in Lower Highlands — or The Source, which has businesses like restaurants, a brewery and small shops on Brighton Boulevard. He sees Denver Central Market as a hybrid of the two.
Not only will people be able to get the wares of 11 local businesses at the market, but the businesses inside the market plan a significant amount of collaboration. High Point Creamery, which is opening its second location there, is offering “ice queen sandwiches” with its ice cream in a croissant from neighboring Izzio’s Artisan Bakery, co-owner Erika Thomas noted. And it’s combining a scoop of its ice cream with coffee from its other neighbor, Crema Bodega, for those who want the best of both worlds.
For some proprietors, the market offered a chance to change their business trajectories in significant ways. Andrea Frizzi, owner of upscale Italian restaurant Il Posto, will operate Vero Italian, a more relaxed counter-service eatery featuring pizza and pasta. Izzio’s will move its pastry bakery into to the space to create more room at its main Louisville bakery for the national distribution of bread.
“It puts us on the map as a real food destination — not just restaurants, but food,” said Kate Kaufman, operations director for the market. “People want to be part of the food community and know who their butcher is and who their fish purveyor is.”
To see the 11 businesses in the market, click on the slideshow accompanying this story.