All aboard -- almost -- for Union Station grand opening Saturday

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When Union Station hosts its grand-opening gala on Saturday, July 26, most -- but not all -- of the fifteen restaurants, bars and retail outlets signed on for the project will be open to the public. Alex Seidel's Mercantile Dining & Provision is more than a month away from opening -- but Fruition's owner knew early on that his second restaurant wouldn't hit the mark. The bigger surprise is that the Cooper Lounge, the lovely bar in the mezzanine level of the Great Hall, won't be open, either. But there will still be plenty to see...and eat.

See also: Alex Seidel is thinking outside the box for Mercantile Dining & Provisions

The first place to open to the public was Stoic & Genuine, the fourth restaurant from Jen Jasinski and Beth Gruitch; business has been going swimmingly since the seafood spot opened on July 9 in the southern wing of the station. The next to open was the Kitchen Next Door Union Station, right next door to Stoic & Genuine; it's been serving breakfast, lunch and happy hour since July 14 -- all under the neon glow of the circa 1950 neon "Union Station Restaurant" sign that once graced the outside of the building. And on July 16, Snooze Union Station started serving in the opposite wing; it's open at 6:30 a.m. every day.

By this weekend, you'll also be able to take a seat at the Terminal Bar, which occupies the former ticket window in the Great Hall; there's patio seating for the Terminal in front of the station, and since the liquor license covers the entire area, you can take one of the thirty Colorado beers on tap at the Terminal to enjoy in one of the cushy chairs in the Great Hall as well. You should also be able to get your caffeine fix at Pigtrain Coffee, order a sandwich at Acme Burgers and Brats, get your licks at Milkbox Ice Creamery or grab a salad at fresh eXchange.

All of these spots are located in the Great Hall of Union Station and boast local produce (the Milkbox serves Little Man ice cream, for example) and inspiration -- although fresh eXchange is the exception to the local-only rule, since it's joint venture between Denver entrepreneur Willie Kellum and Atlanta-based Concessions International. "With fresh eXchange we're able to build upon the renewed excitement of Union Station. We're one of only eight innovative retail and restaurant partners selected to be part of the grand re-opening," says Anthony Joseph, president of Concessions International, in a release (that also has the address for Union Station off by five blocks).

The grand opening festivities on Saturday will include a street festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in front of Union station, with food trucks, vendors, family activities and live music. Rachel and the Kings will perform at 10:45 a.m., followed by Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers at 12:30 p.m. and The Railbenders at 2 p.m. The official Denver Union Station opening ceremony will be held at noon by the Union Station Alliance partners. You can also tour the station itself between noon and 8 p.m.; free tickets will be available at the street festival until 3 p.m., and you can also get time-stamped tickets online (there's a $1 processing fee). Find more information here. Keep reading for more action around Union Station. And there's plenty of action around Union Station, too. Hopdoddy Burger Bar, a link in a chain that was originally going to plant its first Denver store in Cherry Creek, will open next month in the new building just to the north of Union Station.

And just to the south in One Union Station, another new building, the Thirsty Lion has done a roaring-good business since it opened on April 29.

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