Food and market halls blossom in Denver metro area

Low cost for eatery owners, range of offerings for customers among attractions


Mark Shaker sees a combination of factors as to why food halls — modern, cafeteria-style markets — have a firm grasp on the Denver metro area’s food scene.

“One, I think (food halls) create natural community gathering spots. If a group of four or six people want to go out… the variety of offerings makes food halls a spot to go to,” said Shaker, a founder of Stanley Marketplace, a market hall in Aurora that opened toward the end of 2016.

Along with businesses such as clothing stores, hair salons and fitness amenities, the Stanley Marketplace houses a variety of locally owned food and beverage options inside what used to be a manufacturing building.

“Instead of going to a particular restaurant, you can go to eight of them at once,” Shaker continued. “On the other side, there’s the cost. If you talk to chefs around town, there aren’t that many that are interested in building a ground up restaurant. (Food halls) are much easier, because you don’t have a debt barrier.”

Other food and market halls in the Denver metro area include the Source, a market hall in the RiNo Art District. The Source is home to restaurants Comida Cantina and Acorn, the Proper Pour liquor store, the RiNo Yacht Club cocktail bar, the Crooked Stave brewery taproom, the food store Mondo Market and other businesses. Sitting next door to the Source is the Source Hotel & Marketplace. Inside, it has a hotel, the New Belgium taproom, Safta, modern Israeli restaurant Smok, barbecue restaurant The Woods, a rooftop restaurant and bar, art and retail goods.

“It’s more just responding to the culture here and having a variety of options. People just want something that is more casual and fun without having to spend a bunch of money,” said Kyle Zeppelin. co-president of Zeppelin Development. Zeppelin Development has its fingerprints on the Denver metro area’s food and market hall scene and is the developer of the Source and Zeppelin Station, a food hall with eight food vendors and two cocktail bars.

Zeppelin said the market for food and market halls in suburban communities has a similar demand to the urban area where the Source is located. However, he said, a lot of it depends on population density.

“There is a need, even in some of those outlying areas. The same built-up demand exists,” Zeppelin said.

Julie Rodriguez, the marketing coordinator for the Denver Milk Market, a marketplace with 12 eateries and three bars, said a marketplace similar to the Denver Milk Market would need to be located close to shopping and walkable destinations.

Golden is currently in the midst of having Tributary and Golden Mill, two food halls, constructed. Edgewater will also soon be welcoming the opening of Edgewater Public Market, a food hall and shopping center.

“How many times do you go to a different town space, and there’s more than one restaurant on one block? (Food halls) create more flexibility, and adaptable spaces,” said Shaker. “There’s a lot of market efficiencies if you create the right spot in the right neighborhood. The real opportunities are in the outskirts, and it makes sense from all of the various stakeholders. I don’t think this is a trend going away anytime soon.”



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