Pockets of Park Hill have become home to some quality neighborhood eateries, including Tables on Kearney Street, Bistro Barbes on East 28th Avenue and Desmond on Oneida Street. A few coffeehouses and pizza joints lure locals, but the neighborhood's small shopping centers have yet to experience the kind of bar and restaurant boom that has engulfed Berkeley, Lower Highland and Old South Pearl. That quiet, neighborhood vibe is part of the allure for Idaho restaurateur Kevin Settles, owner and president of three Bardenay distillery pubs in Boise, Eagle and Coeur d'Alene. Settles has selected a space at 2245 Kearney Street, once a movie theater, for the first Bardenay outside of its home state.
The first Bardenay opened in 1999 and became a distillery and restaurant in 2000. "We were the first distillery the federal government gave a license to operate in a public place," Settles notes. Colorado's distillery regulations have recently become amenable to the same kind of setup, so Settles felt it was a prime time to expand outside of Idaho. After scouting Denver for some time, he found the space on Kearney Street and thought it would be a great addition to the neighborhood, since "nobody does exactly what we do."
The high ceilings at the back of the old theater (which served as a church more recently) appealed to Settles as a great place to install a big bar and distilling equipment. "This will be our largest distillery by footprint," he adds. And the differences in liquor laws between Idaho and Colorado means that Denver's Bardenay will be able to sell bottles to go, something the company can't do in Idaho.
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Bardenay specializes in "eclectic pub food," with more Northwestern influences than we're used to here in Denver; expect salmon and trout and a selection of steaks, but pho and other Asian dishes will also make appearances — along with burgers, sandwiches and other more typical fare. The distillery makes its own vodka, gin, rum and rye whiskey, but the bar also stocks a complete lineup of typical spirits; Settles says that shelf space will be reserved for Colorado spirits. He also notes that his restaurants have won awards for their wine selection.
Settles has applied for building permits and for a liquor license, but Denver's building boom means he may not get sign-off until December, at which point the buildout can begin. Optimistically, he says, next summer is a reasonable goal for opening.