Walking through the continuous construction zone that is downtown Denver, it’s not easy to find much of the Wild West romance that has charmed visitors to the Mile High City for decades. Rail tracks have been torn up and old brick buildings have been torn down. Even the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River, where Denver was founded in 1858, now lies in the shadow of a massive, out-of-place luxury apartment building that towers over the waterways.
But as with any disaster, signs of life eventually grow back. Three weeks ago, The Local(ish) Market opened just a few feet from the end of the line at Union Station, returning an unexpected bit of that charm to Denver.
Owned by Jill Alfond, Chris Zettle and Jame Stefankiewicz (who also owns City Pop), Local(ish) sells mostly local goods: cold brew from Corvus, pastries from Babette’s, wraps from Biju’s Little Curry Shop, bags from Topo, Colorado flag T-shirts and socks, along with flip-flops, earbuds, cell phone chargers, chips and sodas. A cross between an upscale convenience store and a grab-and-go eatery, Local(ish) caters to everyone from train, bus and light-rail riders to partiers on their way to Coors Field or the bars of LoDo. Office workers, residents of the surrounding condo complexes and guests at several new hotels will also find something they need or crave.
But even more important (for beer-lovers, at least), the 2,200-square-foot market sports a bar with six taps, where it serves up beer from a rotating list of Colorado craft breweries. In the past few weeks, the lineup has included Real Peel Tangerine IPA from Avery Brewing, Rare Trait IPA from Cerebral Brewing, Pretzel Assassin Amber Ale from Denver Beer Co, Denver Pale Ale from Great Divide, Pilsner from Prost, and Raspberry Provincial from Funkwerks.
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You can also order a flight: the Early Flight (samples of three draft beers) or the Delayed Flight (samples of all six beers and a pack of Advil when you show proof of your flight delay) for people heading to DIA.
“We want this to be like a European train station, where you can have a nice sandwich or a beer and get on with your day,” says Alfond, who owned the now-closed Sugarlicious candy shop in Cherry Creek. Some customers just need five minutes or less; one gentleman hopped off the DIA train, knocked back a beer, then jumped back on the return train. Others spend a little more time: Three German men in town for a conference stopped in for a beer and ended up staying for three hours, quaffing brews, laughing and talking, she says.
“The people-watching is amazing,” Alfond adds. Part of the reason for that is the shop's location. Just out the back doors of Union Station, right off the platform, Local(ish) sits just a few feet from where the Amtrak and DIA trains stop before backing up and heading back out of town. You can literally(ish) drink at the end of the tracks.
There are six seats at the bar and more facing the long windows that look out onto the tracks. The owners also have plans to add another small bar inside the store and a patio that will get people even closer to the train. Local(ish) also plans beer-tasting events and food-and-beer pairings, possibly with current partners like Vert Kitchen, the Noshery, Biju’s, Babette’s and others.Those should go nicely with a beer and a view.