Colby Rankin was on a trip to New York City when he noticed the many walk-up windows on the sides of restaurants, where busy, hungry city dwellers could grab a bite to eat without ever going inside — drive-thrus for the pedestrian set. But Rankin, a Colorado native and founder of Platt Park Brewing, could only think of one such spot in Denver: Colfax Avenue’s Bourbon Chicken Grill (which moved a couple of years ago and no longer offers sidewalk service).
Fast-forward a few years, and Rankin got the opportunity to annex a very small, 550-square-foot former dance studio next door to his brewery at 1875 South Pearl Street. He thought about different concepts for the space, including a speakeasy. But after considering all the angles, he decided that the best option would be a walk-up deli.
This June, Rankin and his family will open Gates Deli & Grog, a sandwich, salad and soup shop that will only serve food through two windows, one opening onto the sidewalk and one looking into the Platt Park Brewing taproom. It will also serve handmade and batched cocktails (in the taproom, not on the street), along with wine.
“The neighborhood supports us so well, and we noticed that there was a big rush before and after dinnertime,” he says. “So we thought, it would be nice if we could keep those people in the taproom and capitalize on that by serving our own food.”
In doing so, Platt Park Brewing will join a growing number of breweries that are adding their own permanent food options as a way to strengthen their businesses, set themselves apart and get away from a reliance on food trucks. In the past few years, Black Shirt Brewing, Downhill Brewing, Wonderland Brewing, Station 26 Brewing and Denver Beer Co.’s Arvada taproom are among those that have added food options.
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To make the change, Rankin sought a different license — a brewpub license, which, in addition to food, will allow him to serve wine and spirits, sake and cider. “I have always had a passion for cocktails, so that's part of the drive behind this,” he says. "But to be honest, it has been kind of a struggle with the food trucks. They're not always reliable, and it’s difficult to be dependent on another business."
Gates Deli — named in honor of the Gates family that helped create and support the Platt Park neighborhood — will serve eight “culinary junk food” sandwiches that Rankin wants to model after the fare at Turkey in the Wolf, a New Orleans sandwich joint that won Bon Appetit’s best new restaurant nod in 2017.
Some of those sandwiches will use bison, since Rankin’s family also owns Rocky Mountain Natural Meats, a large bison management, production and distribution company based in Colorado.
Gates Deli & Grog is scheduled to open in time for Platt Park Brewing’s fifth anniversary on June 1, joining the new brick-and-mortar version of Quiero Arepas on the block.