Nonprofit restaurant Osage Cafe
has operated at 1099 Osage Street in the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood for nine years, but now it's moved into a larger space at 1035 Osage Street and added an affordable market.
The cafe is operated by the Denver Housing Authority's (DHA) Youth Employment Academy
(YEA), which works to "serve young adults in breaking the cycle of generational poverty in Denver communities by gaining personal and economic stability through education and employment training," according to the organization's website. The program's participants range in ages from 14 to 24, and at Osage Cafe, they receive culinary industry training. Along with serving the community from the cafe, Osage is also one of the vendors that provides food for Meow Wolf's HELLOFOOD
Choice Market previously operated out of 1035 Osage Street, but when it opted to not renew its lease, the DHA saw an opportunity to fill a need for the community. "[We] took a step back to see how we could provide both the cafe and mercardo," says Annie Hancock, DHA director of resident community connections. By combining the two concepts, the DHA hopes to create a space in which the whole neighborhood feels welcome.
"This is what community development is," adds Keo Frazier, director of communications and public affairs for the DHA. "It is utilizing transit-oriented spaces that are not just something like a grocery store, but culturally relevant, and have easy and affordable access." The market will stock ingredients tailored to the cultural needs of the neighborhood, with a focus on nutritional options as well as grab-and-go meals.
Interns at Osage Cafe gain food-service and culinary skills to jump-start their careers.
Courtesy of Osage Cafe
The former Osage space will be used for the YEA training academy, wholesale department, food production, catering and other various projects. However, when not in use, YEA hopes to rent the space out to local food trucks, restaurants and vendors to use as a ghost kitchen; the goal is to be able to offer it at an affordable price so that community members can use it to make their ambitions a reality.
To celebrate the move and expansion, Osage Cafe & Mercado will host a grand-opening celebration on July 19 from 2 to 4 p.m. During the event, local chefs who are also Denver Housing Authority residents will be on hand cooking up a special menu of food from their countries. Expect items like spring rolls, fried chicken, green chile, fried rice and couscous. There will also be free aguas frescas and raffles, as well as free snacks for all youth under eighteen.
The cafe's regular menu includes American-style breakfast and lunch options like breakfast burritos, pastries, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, soups, salad and rotating specials.
Osage Cafe & Mercado is located at 1035 Osage Street. The cafe is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the market is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (Saturdays will be added in the fall).