Ryan DiFranco will open an Italian deli in the Beauvallon

Close to a dozen restaurants have come and gone from the beleaguered Beauvallon project, but there are new signs of life at 925 Lincoln Street, the spot that Aqua left three years ago.

A sign on the door reads: "Local, a new concept."

The concept is coming from Ryan DiFranco, a native of Niagara Falls, who graduated the University of North Carolina in 2008 with a BA in business and moved to Los Angeles for a job with Hillstone Restaurant Group. Six months later he was whisked to Denver to manage Houston's, the company's Cherry Creek outpost, which is now named Hillstone.

Now he's ready to go out on his own -- and in the Beauvallon. "People don't give this area a chance because they assume that the building is covered up," DiFranco says. "We're here to push for new things."

Those new things will be featured in an Italian deli-market. "The emphasis is on local, fresh Italian food," DiFranco explains. "Denver needs a good local Italian deli and market. I want to be able to share my passion for great Italian food, coming from a large Italian family. I want to do it right, with local farmers, and celebrate good food with the city."

Originally he envisioned a kitchen that prepared Italian products such as pasta sauces, cheeses, pasta and dessert that would be sold online and at farmers' markets, as well as used to cater small parties. But now DiFranco plans to debut a complete restaurant that will feature deli-style Italian food and an in-store market stocked with local Italian goods including biscotti, chocolate, pasta and olive oil.

It's taken some time to get the space ready; when it was Aqua, this address didn't even have a kitchen. DiFranco plans to reveal both the logo and the name of the address's new occupant on May 1, and then open his place later in the month. In the meantime, he's launched a project with Kickstarter to raise additional funding.

He's confident his place will bring new life to the Beauvallon.

"I love Denver," he says. "It's everything you could ask for and more.There's an enormous amount of opportunity in the food scene here."

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