Openings and Closings

First Look: Asbury Provisions Opens Labor Day With 25 Tap Handles

Provisions seems to be one of the latest restaurant catch words, both nationally and locally. Portland has Olympic Provisions, San Francisco is home to State Bird Provisions and Houston has the unadorned Provisions. Here in town, chef Alex Seidel is about to open Mercantile Dining & Provision at Union Station, while the nearby Provisions Chophaus opened and closed in less than two weeks. And on Labor Day, Chris Topham and Jason Ladd, two restaurant and bar veterans from Philadelphia, will open Asbury Provisions in the University of Denver neighborhood, in the location recently vacated by the Renegade Publik House . This house of provisions also promises a big beer list, craft cocktails and a focus on "imbibing culture," as the two put it.

See also: Alex Seidel: Thinking outside the box for Mercantile Dining & Provision

With a beer pedigree highlighted by Philly's Belgian beer temple, Eulogy, Topham says he plans to include a fair number of Belgian tap handles and bottles on his list, but that 50 percent of the draft list will comprise Colorado labels. Despite spending the majority of his bartending career in Pennsylvania, he says coming to this state is "moving from one good scene to another -- like a a kid in a candy store," and lists Crooked Stave, Trinity in Colorado Springs and TRVE among his Colorado favorites. For more accessible beers, he cites Odell IPA as one of the best examples of a classic West Coast IPA.

Ladd focuses more on the cocktail and wine side of the list, creating house-infused spirits like vanilla cardomom vodka, Earl Gray gin and ginger-infused moonshine, which he'll use in his version of a Moscow Mule. He's also attended culinary school and has experience in both the front and back of the house, so he's put some thought into the food. The menu leans toward social food and bar-friendly bites -- "higher end bar food," as he puts it. That includes jarred snacks like whipped ricotta with house jam, grilled pickles and house-marinated olives. Small plates range from slow-baked wings to mussels with chorizo and white wine to praline bacon.

Ladd and Topham are both excited to offer Denver a Philadelphia specialty: an Italian roast pork sandwich with sharp provolone, a spicy broccoli raab topping and, of course, "long hots," yellow peppers that help to define the sandwich as a Philly classic. Ladd says it doesn't get the attention of the more well-known cheese steak, but the sandwich is perhaps even more popular among Philadelphia natives.

This opening marks a quick turnaround from when they received the keys to the place -- they took over just over a month ago, when Renegade Publik House closed. Ladd says the bar has been over a year in planning, though. He was looking to open his own place in Denver last fall and wanted Topham in on it, so Topham packed up his family and was in Denver within five months, helping to scout locations. The DU spot was a lucky find, Ladd says, as they had almost decided on a less desirable location. In the past month, friends have chipped in, helping with the sign design, the buildout of the new bar top and the creation of hand-made tap handles.

In addition to a list of 25 craft beers on tap, Topham points out "Grandpa's fridge," a vintage GE model that he plans to keep stocked with beers your grandfather probably drank -- like Genesee Cream Ale and other American classics.

Asbury Provisions opens on Monday, September 1 at 4 p.m.; there's a grand opening planned for September 5 with an all-day happy hour and other specials. Regular hours will be 4 p.m. to midnight Monday to Thursday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to midnight Sundays.

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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation

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