Last fall, pastry chef Alicia Clardie shared her plan to open a new bakery and cafe called Spruce & Lark in Congress Park. She was working on a lease, had the backing of a successful Denver restaurateur and hoped to be in business by spring of this year. The initial location didn't work out for Clardie, but she didn't stop looking, and has now found a new home for her cafe. Spruce & Lark will open at 4404 Yates Street in the Berkeley neighborhood later this year.
Her partner in the launch is Jeff Osaka, who owns 12@Madison, Osaka Ramen and two locations of Sushi-Rama (with more on the way). "He's been an unlimited resource," Clardie explains. "He likes to see other people succeed. Opening your own business is scary enough, so having someone like him is eye-opening and makes it a little less scary."
Clardie came to Denver to work as the pastry chef at Black Eye Coffee in Capitol Hill, but left shortly before that combination coffeehouse (by day)/restaurant (by night) went out of business last October. With Spruce & Lark, she'll be able to create a full range of sweet and savory pastries, biscuits and breads, offering breakfast and lunch with everything from ham-and-cheese croissants to sandwiches made on bread baked in-house to grab-and-go items. "People want to feel indulgent," she notes of bakery customers, "but we'll still be using local ingredients and things that are in season, and we'll be offering some lighter things, too."
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The building where Spruce & Lark is being constructed has room for more than one retail tenant, so Amethyst Coffee, currently with one location at 1111 Broadway, will open a second spot next door. Clardie says that there will be an interior doorway connecting the two businesses so that customers can enjoy coffee and baked goods together. She plans to be open daily from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. initially, but will pay attention to feedback from the neighborhood to see if staying open later would be beneficial. Weekend brunch will also be part of the program, with Amethyst providing the beverages.
Other plans include special orders to provide customers with cakes, pies and other items for special occasions.
Clardie told us last fall that the name Spruce & Lark comes from Colorado's state tree (the blue spruce) and state bird (the meadowlark). While she's originally from California and has only been in Denver for a short time, she's making the city her permanent home by planting her business in the heart of one of its oldest neighborhoods.