First look: Michael Bortz's City Bakery Cafe opens today

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Despite the fact that it wasn't even open, zealous bread heads -- 250 of them to be exact -- rose to the occasion yesterday, forming long lines at master baker Michael Bortz's City Bakery Cafe, the restaurant-retail offshoot of City Bakery, Bortz's bread-baking emporium in north Denver, which supplies loaves of lovely bread to numerous local restaurants. The Golden Triangle cafe, located in the former home of Lenny's Sub Shop, spent the past few days doing trial runs -- and turning out sandwiches and baked goods for free to eager neighbors -- and today, at promptly 11 a.m., City Bakery Cafe opens to the public.

See also: Baker Michael Bortz opening City Bakery Cafe in the former Lenny's Sub Shop on Lincoln

The fast-casual space, which seats 65 inside and another dozen or so on a side patio already blooming with bright-hued spring flowers, was completely redone. "It was a family affair," says Bortz, whose daughter chose the paint colors (pale lemon yellow contrasting with varying shades of red, green and blue), while his son, an "art kid," was responsible for shooting the black-and-white photos of iconic Denver landmarks, including the Brown Palace, that line the walls.

Bortz, of course, along with his bread-baking crew, created the menu, which features egg-centric breakfast sandwiches (those will start tomorrow), scones and croissants, raspberry bars and banana bread, lemon-coconut tea bread and cinnamon cafe cake, all of which are complemented by a board of housemade soups, large salads, panini and sandwiches served on Bortz's ciabatta roll, sour baguette, demi-baguette or wheat-berry bread. And all of the sandwiches and panini are priced at $7.99 and include chips and a house-baked chocolate chip cookie.

"What we're going for is a fast-casual place that offers the whole package: great breads and spreads, high quality meats and cheeses and great value," explains Bortz, who will also begin selling his breads, including his amazing pretzels, in a few weeks. There's a full barista program, too, with all sorts of coffee drinks.

While the cafe officially opens today at 11, regular hours, which begin tomorrow, will be from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Here's a sneak peek of what you can expect to see -- and eat.

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