First look: Fooducopia's Corner Store and Cafe opens in the heart of Washington Park

There are lots of really cool things about Fooducopia's Corner Store and Cafe, which opened last week in Washington Park, but the coolest thing of all may be the fact that I can bribe my kid to ride his bike up there for toilet paper...with the promise of a fresh-picked carrot for his troubles. Yeah, believe it or not, the kid likes carrots.

If fact, he (and I) like an awful lot about this urbanized Wash Park food mecca that pimps an impressive selection of local produce and products (and all-natural toiletries). And the adjoining cafe, which serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week, is equally dedicated to a market-driven approach to good food, thanks to chef Richard Glover, an industry veteran who co-owns the market and cafe with Tim Lymberopoulos.

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Fooducopia's Corner Store and Cafe opening over Labor Day Weekend in Washington Park

"I've worked in restaurants on and off for the past several years, and I did some private cheffing for Jake Plummer and a few of the former Nuggets, including Carmelo Anthony, but I really wanted to get involved in a market-driven concept where we could showcase great local products -- and I could cook -- and this was a fantastic opportunity," says Glover, who met Lymberopoulos, coincidentally, at the Pearl Street Farmers' Market.

"I love that we have farmers who show up with dirt still on their hands, because we know that our produce has just been picked -- that what we're selling in the market and serving in the cafe is is as fresh and local as it can be," he adds.

The seasonally-inspired cafe menu, he notes, will change weekly -- sometimes daily -- and while the chalkboard offerings are concise, Glover says that 90 percent of what he's serving consists of products sold in the market. "It's fantastic having a market when I need it, and when I find out that we just got a great crop of peaches in from Palisade, I can walk a mere twenty feet from the kitchen and wrap my hands around them. It's perfect."

The market's inventory will follow suit, changing frequently as the seasons give way to new crops and more Colorado-based companies unleash new products, and while nearly 70 percent of the market's goods are already local, Glover stresses that the percentage will continue to grow. "We obviously want to feature as many local products as possible, and since there are so many great Colorado companies out there, we'll continue to keep an eye on what they're making," he says, revealing, too, that he's planning to sell the award-winning farmstead cheeses that Alex Seidel, the chef-owner of Fruition, makes at Fruition Farms. "I'm really, really excited about showcasing Alex's cheeses -- they're amazing."

And in the near future, divulges Glover, he and Lymberopoulos will likely try to land a liquor license and expand the cafe hours to include dinner service. In the meantime, the French press coffee and prosciutto eggs Benedict are a lovely way to start the morning.

I had a chance to peruse the market and feast on breakfast late last week, and it's a neighborhood asset that we're lucky to have. Here's an exclusive first look of the 'hood's new food lover's nirvana.

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