Local chefs go all-in on a new food hall in the Golden Triangle

Broadway Market is set to open early next year

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Picture yourself on Broadway, the mouthwatering aroma of curry fills the air. A pizza oven warms the room. Ottoman-inspired street food is sizzling nearby. A deli counter and sushi rolls are only a few feet away and colorful chocolates catch the eyes of passersby.

The new Broadway Market expects to deliver just this, as the food hall wraps up construction this month. Variety is a large part of the reason the chefs behind several of the announced vendors in the market jumped on board.

For Daniel Asher, who along with Josh Dinar will be opening Mother Tongue, the new food hall was a chance to work with a “well-respected group of culinary professionals.”

Food halls can also minimize the stress of the dining experience, he said. “The cool thing about food halls is they’re as serious or casual as you want them to be. There’s a lot of room for people to choose their own adventure.”

Broadway Market will be the first project for Eclectic Collective, whose partners were the minds behind other Denver food hall concepts — Stanley Marketplace, Zeppelin Station, The Source and Avanti Food and Beverage. The 15,000-square-foot food hall will be opening in the former Tony’s Market space at 950 Broadway. Eclectic Collective is estimating Broadway Market will be open in January.

A mix of flavor

When Tony’s Market, a local grocery store, closed last December after nearly a decade on Broadway, a large hole was left in the dining scene. People working in the area often went to Tony’s to pick up sandwiches and salads for lunch. Denver diners didn’t have to wait long to hear what would fill the space. Plans for Broadway Market were announced in March.

Since then, six of the 10 food stalls have been announced. Mondo Market, Misaki and Miette et Chocolate were announced as food stalls in November. All three have locations inside Stanley Marketplace. Misaki will offer fresh sushi, as well as an oyster bar. Miette will sell prepackaged chocolates and snacks.

MondoMini will be a smaller version of the Mondo Market deli at Stanley. Nicolas Farrell, co-owner of Mondo, said part of the reason he wanted to open in the Broadway Market was because of the location. Since he moved to Denver 18 years ago, he has driven by it on Broadway nearly every day, he said in a news release.

“This was an easy `yes’ for us because of the amount of traffic that passes this location, and the proximity to the Capitol Hill, Golden Triangle and Baker neighborhoods,” Farrell said. “Combine that with the line-up of concepts coming to Broadway Market and it is looking to be a very special project.”

The first chef to be announced in the food hall was Paul C. Reilly of Beast & Bottle and Coperta. In September, Eclective Collective announced that Reilly would open Pizzeria Coperta, which will sell Roman-style pizza either by the slice or made-to-order thin-crust pizzas. News of Pizzeria Coperta was followed by Biju’s Little Curry Shop and Asher’s restaurant, Mother Tongue.

Asher said he was inspired to open a Turkish restaurant after visiting the country five years ago and eating doner kebabs, seasoned meats that are cooked on a vertical rotisserie. Turkish cuisine is also one of the oldest in the world, he added.

“It’s about bright, vibrant flavors inspired by Turkish cuisine. It’s something that hasn’t been done a lot in Denver,” Asher said. “You want to keep it simple and flavorful and, hopefully, crave-able and delicious.”

Location, location, location

The Golden Triangle was an ideal place for the next food hall in Denver, Asher said.

“Downtown Denver is getting pretty saturated,” he said, and “I think that part of Broadway is a great neighborhood.”

Biju Thomas, founder of Biju’s Little Curry Shop, agreed, saying the location is close to several offices which will draw the lunch crowd of local workers. It’s also close to the 16th Street Mall.

Biju’s restaurant also has two brick-and-mortar locations, one in the River North neighborhood and the other off of Tennyson Street in the Berkeley neighborhood.

At his Berkeley location, Thomas said he frequently sees family members eating food from the restaurant, while others will bring in food from a nearby location. With food halls, those options are all in one place, he said. Having a large variety of food also means that people may learn about a restaurant they otherwise may not have heard of.

“More people are going to come in that haven’t checked out that concept,” Thomas said. “In food halls, you’re going to stumble on all kinds of ideas and different concepts.”

Rising popularity

Denver has been jumping into the food hall trend, with Zeppelin Station in RiNo and downtown’s Denver Milk Market both opening within the last year. Other cities are likely to follow suit, said Thomas. He added that experts in the food industry have had their eyes on the Mile High City as places like Denver Central Market in RiNo have seen success.

“Denver has had a really big impact on the national scene,” Thomas said.

Locally, Biju’s offers something a little different.

When people think of Indian food, they often think of the lunch buffets with tikka masala and saag paneer, Thomas said. While Indian food is popular in the city, Biju’s offers food from the southern region of the country, which is where Thomas and his family are from. The food is authentic to the region, but it is served a little differently. Biju’s mixes a rice base with a main sauce such as the coconut curry chicken. Diners then add chutney, lentils and cabbage into a bowl. Thomas said traditional meals are not mixed in bowls the way Biju’s serves its meals.

For Thomas, who opened his first restaurant in RiNo in 2014, the plan was always to find a way to diversify his restaurant. He has worked with brick-and-mortar restaurants, a food truck, as well as a dining space within a Whole Foods grocery store.

“From the beginning, our intent was to create a multi-unit concept in the Indian space,” Thomas said. “We’re evolving and trying to figure out the next iteration of it is.”

With the popularity of food halls continuing to grow, Thomas said he is looking into more ways to be involved. Coming up, Biju’s will open in Denver Street Eats at the Denver International Airport. Street Eats is a dining concept that will have a rotating schedule with local chefs.

Uniquely Denver

Although food halls are becoming a trend nationally, Broadway Market has worked to highlight local chefs in Denver. Thomas said the restaurant market in the city has less room for chains, and that Denver diners are coming out to support locally owned businesses.

“Stuff like that, all day long, Denver will get behind,” he said. “What people are tired of is the same old things.”

Broadway Market will be the eighth restaurant for Asher, who likes to focus his menus on locally sourced meats and produce. Asher, who is also a father of four, said that cooking for people is his calling, something that fills him with a “very high level of joy.”

“Restaurants are all ecosystems, they’re living organisms,” he said. “It’s a beautiful process.”

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