Construction Watch: Central Market Adds Temper Chocolate

What was once a vast showroom for high-end automobiles and a pre-war curio factory before that is slowly shaping up to become the Denver Central Market, a multi-vendor indoor marketplace from developer Ken Wolf and chef/restaurateur Jeff Osaka. When last we checked in on the project at 2669 Larimer Street, a total of eleven artisan food producers had been announced — and since then there has been one change.

Temper Chocolate, a new venture from chef Jon Robbins of Bistro Barbes and Souk Shawarma, will take the place of previously announced CoCo. Otherwise, the rest of the lineup remains the same (and can be seen here). Osaka explains that all of the vendors have signed long-term leases because he wants the Central Market to become a stable downtown institution like the Grand Central Market in Los Angeles or Cincinnati's Findlay Market, with a recognizable lineup of butchers, bakers, greengrocers and other prepared-food purveyors.

Unsurprisingly for a project of this scale, there have been delays. Osaka says that construction challenges have included everything from maintaining the architectural integrity of the front entrance while making it ADA-compliant to exposing beautiful ceiling beams while providing an adequate fire barrier between the market and the offices on the second floor.
Still, the space is beginning to take shape, with the individual markets stalls in place, demarcated primarily by low walls that won't impede views of the entire space. In the slot that will soon become Vero, from Il Posto chef/owner Andrea Frizzi, a striking, domed pizza oven clad in aquamarine tile has been delivered. A solid slab of cross-cut pine has been installed as a lunch counter along one side of the rectangle marking Culture Meat & Cheese Shop, which will feature cured meats made by chef Justin Brunson's team. And in the back, there's a shared dish station so that all of the vendors can serve foods on restaurant china instead of disposable plates and bowls.

Up front, a towering garage door will open onto a spacious sidewalk patio facing Larimer Street; the door is currently aluminum but will be replaced by a glass-paneled door in time for the Market's opening. That opening date has yet to be determined — estimates have already moved from spring to late summer — but when the day arrives, it will certainly unveil one of the most promising gatherings of local culinary talent in the city.

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