Denver's north side will soon have a new stop for groceries, breakfast, lunch, dinner...and a drink. Leevers Locavore opens at 7 a.m. on Thursday, November 21, with local, organic and natural products; several food-service counters serving the likes of breakfast sandwiches, pizza and sushi; and a bar where you can order wine and Colorado beer to sip as you stroll and shop.
"We're offering the energy of a food hall or East Coast market, but in a grocery store setting," says general manager Chris Franklin, who previously worked for Trader Joe's. The GM compares his new store to his old employer, noting that there's a similar emphasis on customer service, something rare in the supermarket business.
The new front door leads directly to a produce section stocked with Colorado fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Encircling the produce section are several food-service counters, including a coffee bar stocked with beans from Queen City Collective Coffee; a pizza counter operated by Mike Miller's longtime neighborhood pizzeria group, Basil Doc's; a version of chef Justin Brunson's Culture Meat & Cheese that will focus primarily on sandwiches, soups and charcuterie boards; and One Two Three Sushi (which replaces the originally planned Sushi-Rama counter). In the same area, there's also a small plant and floral shop from Buckley House of Flowers and Tigerlily Goods and a "chop shop" with fruits and vegetables prepared each day for home cooks.
"I've really wanted a butcher shop since I was twelve, and now I've got one," Brunson points out. "But it's not only a specialty market; we've got meat for everyday use, too."
Another of Brunson's priorities is seeking out Colorado farmers and ranchers to find good, short-term deals for daily specials in the meat department. He points out that many meat producers can easily sell their high-end cuts but have trouble finding purchasers for large amounts of ground beef, for example. Leevers has the capacity to purchase big orders all at once, giving the farmer a place to sell meat and good deals for shoppers. And because he's running a fully operational butcher shop, Brunson and his team will also sell bones, stocks, demi-glace and other butcher-counter products. "That's what we've both been talking about: customer service in a grocery store," Brunson says of his relationship with Franklin.
The Leevers Locavore grand opening kicks off at 7 a.m. Thursday at 2630 West 38th Avenue. Along with the usual festivities, look for Brunson's smoker out front; he'll be cooking up a whole hog with a Colorado-style green chile-vinegar mop — something that could become a regular occurrence at the grocery store. Thereafter, Leevers will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.