When Paris on the Platte closed in January, it marked the end of an era on Platte Street, one that began nearly thirty years earlier when Faye Maguire opened the coffee shop in what was then a Bohemian — and hardly gentrified — neighborhood. But times change and the street, trendy and bustling, has evolved into a destination district for high-end eateries, boutique shops and craft beers. The former home of the coffeehouse and wine bar is now in the process of becoming something equally eclectic but with a distinctly modern vibe: Habit Doughnut Dispensary and Carbon Beverage Cafe will open this summer with two distinct concepts (connected only by a common kitchen) from founder and restaurant designer Lisa Ruskaup, who has served as the concept director for the Breckenridge-Wynkoop group for the past four years.
On the north side, Carbon will feature coffee beverages poured from a high-tech Modbar system that hides most of the espresso-making machinery beneath the counter, allowing for a sleek taproom experience. "You get to pay at the counter and play at the tap," Ruskaup explains, adding that "tap-tenders" will be on hand to help guide the drink-making experience. Customers will be able customize drinks to their own preference — including the addition of alcohol if desired, since Carbon and Habit will both have liquor licenses — or go with more standardized menu options.
The coffee will be Carbon's own blend created by Pablo's Coffee, and there will also be cold-brewed coffee from Method Coffee Roasters. Opposite the drink bar will be a carbonation station where customers can carbonate any drink they order. Technology drives the ordering and pick up of drinks: if you have a favorite beverage, you can store it on a zip drive for the Modbar system to read, and once you've ordered you'll get an SMS message when it's ready. (There will also be a ticker-style display above the bar announcing completed orders.) Grab-and-go food as well as a small menu will be available from the kitchen.
The Carbon space is divided into several different spaces for different moods, but all will have plug-ins for electronic devices. A cozy back room that Ruskaup calls "the locker" features the floor-to-ceiling carriage-house doors that until recently graced Paris on the Platte. Another room called "the Lounge" is set apart from the rest of the space by a short set of stairs and a brick wall; it will be available to reserve for larger groups and meetings.
The south half of the concept will become Habit Doughnut Dispensary and will feature sweet and savory doughnut creations. "Habit is more of a hip-hop, crazy, urban, high-end convenience store-meets-doughnut shop," explains Ruskaup. Doughnuts will be available by the dozen (the 4/20 special includes a dozen "blazed" doughnuts that get bruleed with a torch) or as a single order. If you get just one doughnut, you're entitled to a free small cup of black coffee. Because the liquor license covers both halves of the space, customers will also be able to order a doughnut and an airplane bottle of liquor.
Habit's kitchen will be headed by executive pastry chef Jessica Desormeaux and lead pastry chef Jennifer Akina; the tiny but well-appointed kitchen will also turn out fresh-baked bread and other treats. The front of Habit will have cold cases with some shelf space for convenience-store items, and the bulk-coffee dispensers from Paris on the Platte will be filled with fun items as part of the wall display. "It's a little edgy," Ruskaup notes, "but I think it's something special."
This week Ruskaup is launching a mobile version of the shop called ReHabit to bring doughnuts and cold-brew coffee to the streets of Denver. She also plans to expand the dual doughnut and coffee concept beyond Platte Street: She's scouting a second location in the Golden Triangle that could open later this year.
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The dispensary theme of the doughnut shop, the high-tech coffee bar and the eclectic interior decor are all part of Ruskaup's style. She was the main force behind the design of Session Kitchen on Old South Pearl and the Ale House at Amato's — two visually engaging spaces from Breckenridge-Wynkoop. While working with a much smaller space for Habit and Carbon, Ruskaup is flying solo (although investors include Faye Maguire) — so the full force of her creativity and vision will be realized once the doors open some time in the next two to four weeks.