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Developers to breathe new life into vacant grocery stores, converting them into food halls

Our Colorado: Food hall trend skyrocketing
Posted at 5:59 PM, Oct 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-04 23:44:14-04

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DENVER -- Developers will soon breathe new life into two long-vacant grocery stores.

Both the former King Soopers, at 20th & Depew in Edgewater, and the former Tony's Market, at 950 Broadway in Denver, are destined to become food halls.

Construction workers are working inside both stores in preparation for the changes.

The store on Broadway will be called Broadway Market.

A spokesman says they're looking to put ten vendors inside the 15,000-square-foot property, among them Pizzeria Coperta, which will be operated by acclaimed Denver chef Paul C. Reilly and partners Aileen Reilly and JP Taylor Jr.

“From the team behind award-winning restaurants Beast & Bottle and Coperta, Pizzeria Coperta will feature the two styles of Roman pizza plus Roman street food,” said Bryant Palmer in a news release.

Food Hall Popularity

Food halls are skyrocketing in popularity.

Metro Denver boasts at least 7, among them:

  • The Source in RiNo
  • Avanti Food & Beverage in the Highlands
  • Stanley Marketplace in Aurora
  • Zeppelin Station in RiNo
  • Denver Union Station
  • The Denver Central Market on Larimer St.
  • Denver Milk Market near Coors Field

Kyle Zeppelin of Zeppelin Development says they started the first modern food hall in the area when they opened the Source in 2013.

When asked why food halls are so popular, he said, "People don't want the formalities of a big, drawn out sit down meal. They want something that is fun and approachable, with a reasonable price point.


Zeppelin said food hall history dates back to Europe.

“In some ways, we’re borrowing from a hundred-year-old model and are applying that to the present, adapting to different people’s tastes,” he said. “You have a whole new generation of businesses and people and less formalities.”

Modern Concept

Chapelle Ryon and her co-workers like the modern food hall concept.

“We have a remote working force,” she said. “We all get together at a different brewery or food hall every other week, to share and work together. Food halls give us a good environment where everybody can get something different, and we can just grab beers and be casual and do some work together.”

“Everybody has their own (food) preference,” said D.J. Howard.  “You don’t have to collaborate on where the best place is. You decide on your own and kind of share everything around the table. It just feels more like a dinner table at home, to me.”

Zeppelin said Zeppelin Station differs from the Source.

“The Source is an urban market hall set in an 1880s building that has a creative edge to it,” he said. “Zeppelin Station has six restaurants in a start-up phase, then an anchor restaurant that is complementary and a ‘made in the city’ series for retail.”

Trend-Based Tendencies

When asked about the growing number of food halls, Zeppelin said, “Denver has some tendencies to be a little bit trend based. There’s one successful model and everyone wants to do it, until it doesn’t work anymore.”

He said food halls are a great place for entrepreneurs to start their restaurants.

“It’s very approachable as far as start-up costs,” he said. “It’s not a long-term commitment as far as a lease. If things don’t work out, you can vary it, and keep testing new ideas.”

Heubner said having the experience of working at Revival Food Hall in Chicago has helped management at Zeppelin Station make things easier for vendors.

He said they help with permits and health code requirements.

“Our job is to take away all the heavy lifting,” he said, “and let the people in the central kitchens and the vendors focus on what they’re good at.”