Wafflich, the neighborhood breakfast-and-lunch joint at 4166 Tennyson Street that chef Benny Kaplan opened after closing Shazz two years ago, had some problems from the start -- chief among them the fact that it didn't serve waffles. Now the tiny spot on Tennyson Street has been turned over to the Pasty Republic, where next week Jonathan Walker and his wife, Sam Elhindi, will introduce Denverites to the delight of the "pasty" (pronounced pass-tea). The baked, stuffed pastry, first introduced in Cornwall, has been popular in England since the thirteenth century but is difficult to find outside the British Isles, and previous efforts to start pasty-centric restaurants in Denver have all failed.
After leaving Britain for Denver, Walker had trouble finding a decent pasty -- so he decided to take matters into his own hands and not only learn to make the treat himself, but to introduce Coloradans to a food he doesn't want to live without. After taking on the Tennyson location, he and Elhindi started prepping, most recently flying out James Barnecutt -- a pasty chef they met in Britain whose family has owned dozens of pasty bakeries there for generations -- who spent a week with the couple and their employees, teaching them the correct way to make a pasty.
In addition to mastering the traditional pasty, the crew developed special "Colorado" pasties that expand the menu while staying true to the state's unique spin on cuisine. And so the Pasty Republic will offer pasties themed around Mexican, Indian, vegetarian and American food (one was even inspired by the cheeseburger), all made with fresh ingredients. For those with a sweet tooth, there's a Nutella-infused pasty for chocolate lovers and fruit-filled pasties for pie lovers. The store will also offer handheld salads and ice cream, which was a specialty at Wafflich.
Watch for the grand-opening party from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, March 21, when there will be music, beverages and a deal that gets you a free pasty when you buy two. But if you can't wait that long for a taste, the Pasty Republic will actually open to the public on Monday, March 17.
The Pasty Republic will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. For more information, go to thepastyrepublic.com.