Denver Chopped Cheese Truck Big Apple Bodega Opening on South Broadway | Westword
Navigation

Denver's Chopped Cheese Food Truck Is Moving Into a Brick-and-Mortar

It will serve ten versions of the NYC bodega staple along with soft-serve ice cream and Dole Whip on Fridays.
A classic chopped cheese from Big Apple Bodega.
A classic chopped cheese from Big Apple Bodega. Big Apple Bodega
Share this:
"I just want to scream it," says Brian Murphy, who is excited to have found a permanent home for his chopped cheese food truck. While he's not ready to announce the address just yet, he does share that Big Apple Bodega hopes to debut a counter-service location on South Broadway by late May.

Murphy launched his business in March 2021. "I did the truck for two seasons, and I don't really love working seasonally," he says. "I want to be open full-time, year-round, so I decided to do a brick-and-mortar."

He'd looked at several locations before finally finding the right fit for what he says will be the "first-ever chopped cheese QSR," or quick-service restaurant. "Other restaurants have a chopped cheese on the menu, but this is all chopped cheese."

The sandwich is a staple at bodegas in New York City but has become more popular in the metro area recently. Still, Murphy often has to educate customers who are unfamiliar with the item, which is similar to a cheeseburger but with meat that's chopped on a flat top. "Last year on our truck, I got a fourteen-foot cheeseburger flag," he says. "In all my advertisement stuff, I play to the cheeseburger part."

Big Apple Bodega's chopped cheese sandwiches are built on Kaiser rolls. The classic, dubbed the Sinatra, includes grilled onions, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo and ketchup, but Murphy jokes that he "can't stop" creating new iterations — he's up to seventeen.
click to enlarge a man in a backward hat, t-shirt and apron
Brian Murphy hopes there will be multiple quick-service Big Apple Bodegas in the future.
Big Apple Bodega
He plans to pare that back to ten for the brick-and-mortar menu, with a rotating special every week. One that will definitely make the cut is the Fire Island Luau, a combination of teriyaki ground beef with grilled red onions, pineapple, Gouda, lettuce, tomato and mayo. It's a customer favorite, and Murphy will be embracing that with Fire Island Fridays, during which customers who wear a lei will get a discount.

Dole whip, which Murphy fell for during a recent trip to Hawaii, will also be on offer for the weekly tropical celebration. The restaurant will have soft-serve ice cream as a regular offering, too. Other food items will include snacks like pickle chips, pretzel bites and corn dogs.

The space itself is small, but he hopes to make room for around six tables inside; there's also a patio with seating outside. "I'm going to do it really like an experience — a play on Central Park, with lots of green and plants," Murphy says, adding that he's going to add another outdoor area with picnic tables and possibly a kids' play area as well.

On weekends, Big Apple Bodega will serve brunch, including its popular breakfast burritos and egg-and-cheese sandwiches with ham, bacon or sausage. He doesn't plan to get a liquor license for the venture, though. Instead, Murphy will focus on N/A options including beers from Athletic Brewing. "It'll be a swanky jazz brunch — Saturdays and Sundays with Sinatra," he says.

While the truck will go on pause as he concentrates on the new location, he's not planning to sell it right away. "The truck has been great, and the festivals have been super fun," Murphy notes.

In late 2022, Murphy launched franchising opportunities for Big Apple Bodega. He's gotten some interest, but without a proven brick-and-mortar concept, no one has signed on just yet. "I want to get this QSR under my belt, and then I can push that more," he says, adding that he'd love to see outposts in tourist destinations such as Las Vegas and Hawaii, as well as college towns like Boulder.

"I want this to be the first of many," he concludes. 
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. Your membership allows us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls. You can support us by joining as a member for as little as $1.