Jerrod Rosen's family has been running grocery stores and restaurants in Denver since the 1920s. His great-grandmother, Anna Rosen, opened Rosen's Kosher Restaurant on Curtis Street in 1925, and his great-grandfather, Morris Klausner, ran Golden Rule Dry Goods at 38th and Walnut streets at about the same time. His grandparents and great uncle had other delis, markets and restaurants downtown over the years, and now the fourth-generation Coloradan is getting into the family business. Rosen is opening Rye Society at 3090 Larimer Street on Monday, July 23.
Rye Society combines tradition with modern sensibilities in the space that was most recently Hutch & Spoon. Rosen will offer sandwiches, soups, salads, bagels and other Jewish deli staples for breakfast and lunch, but will also serve grain bowls and other light, healthy options for the young and active RiNo neighborhood. So deli traditionalists will be able to feast on an oversized pastrami sandwich stacked with meat brought in from New York City's Carnegie Deli, but, Rosen notes, "We're also offering lighter fare that caters to a younger generation, with fresh ingredients from local producers, and we're paying more attention to quality ingredients, like making our own cream cheeses in-house."
Rye Society's menu was designed by chef Ryan Leinonen, who previously operated Trillium just a few blocks down Larimer Street. "Ryan came on and rocked out an amazing opening menu," Rosen notes. "We're lucky to have him."
The deli owner adds that his sister, a naturopath, had a hand in designing at least one menu item, dubbed "Doctor Rosen's Feel-Good Bowl."
Rosen and Leinonen toured dozens of classic and modern delis in New York City and Los Angeles for inspiration. Rosen explains that at one time, there were thousands of Jewish delis in the United States, but that the tradition faded and many of the older places that remained open became stuck in time. So the team made a point of exploring newer delis that have managed to inject new life into the model. "Wexler's [in Los Angeles] was a great influence for us because they are doing the new-school thing so well," he points out.
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Langer's was another Los Angeles inspiration, and Rye Society will have a sandwich that's a tribute to that deli's famous #19 pastrami sandwich, built with coleslaw, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese. Rosen calls his version the "#18 Plus One," which may or may not be a reference to the Denver Broncos' last great quarterback.
Sandwich bread is being baked by City Bakery, which will also provide rye rolls to accompany non-sandwich dishes, and bagels come courtesy of Rosenberg's in Five Points.
Rye Society's narrow corner space doesn't have much room for indoor seating; A few two-top tables sit beneath portraits of Larry David, Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis painted by artist Bec Winnel, and a row of stools offers extra seating along a rail that looks into a stairwell. A small patio facing 31st Street provides outdoor tables. Look for other decorative elements, such as a mural wall made up of photos from Rosen's family's restaurants and markets, all connected with a timeline detailing the family's history. In the bathrooms, there's wallpaper covered in puppies and kittens, some wearing yarmulkes. These playful elements speak to the history of Jewish delis while still feeling appropriate for the RiNo neighborhood.
Rosen kicked off Rye Society's catering branch two months ago and will open the deli to the public on Monday, July 23, with hours from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends. See the deli's website for more details.