Cafe Society

Blazer's Street Market shuttered--but it's not as bad as you think

For a brief, brief moment, Blazer's Street Market was my favorite market in Colorado.

I mean, it was perfect: beautiful produce, a lot of it local, a lot of it organic, just stacked up in massive piles all over this store at 15550 East Sixth Avenue in Aurora. Everything was plainly displayed, and the quality was good -- at least as good as what you'd get at Whole Foods or the local grocery store.

And the best thing? Everything was cheap as hell. Maybe not quite Asian-grocery-cheap (or, in a different neighborhood, Mexican-grocery-cheap), but still a lot less expensive than what I'd become accustomed to paying at some of the boutique groceries around town.

And now it's closed.

Which, normally, would just kill me -- would set me off on another rant about how nobody cares about local businesses and would rather sit around on their fat asses all day eating McDonald's cheeseburgers and drinking Big Gulps than get out there and support a good local operator. Except that, Blazer's is only closed for a few few months. And for a really good reason.

See, Blazer's Street Market founder Harry Blazer (yeah, the same one who started the Harry's Farmers Markets in Atlanta and got bought out by Whole Foods) knew that, in order to maximize the local growing season, he would have to get his store open before he was really ready to open it -- would have to get in there and get some produce on the tables, so to speak, just so he wouldn't miss an entire Colorado harvest.

So what Blazer and his crew did was essentially open an incomplete store on July 16 -- one that was only handling produce and some dry stock. But the plan always had been to shut the place at some point (it closed on October 5) so that it could expand into the concept that Blazer had from the start:a full-service grocery, offering not just fruits and vegetables, but meats and dairy and seafood and cheese and all sorts of other things, too.

The plan right now is to keep Blazer's dark until some time in January, at which point the store will be ready to operate seven days a week, from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m., when it will offer not just the excellent produce that I found there, but also meat, seafood, deli, cheese, dairy and bakery departments. According to the message playing on the Blazer's answering machine, it will also be adding more "specialty, organic and natural" foods.

I'll be one of the first people in line when Blazer's reopens. I hope all of you are right behind me.