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Teller's Taproom & Kitchen opens in the culinary wasteland that's Lakewood

After spending the weekend scrounging for food in Lakewood -- more accurately, Applewood -- I was ready to give up. I'd pushed away an inedible pizza, spit out sushi, sobbed over the limp and cold fries at Smashburger...and even the frozen yogurt I got to console myself sucked. The best food I had was at Lutheran Hospital -- and it wasn't even food; it was iced tea.

It's no secret that Lakewood (and, while we're at it, Wheat Ridge) is a vast culinary labyrinth of chains and uninspiring independent restaurants that force suburbanites to empty their change in downtown meters. And that's what inspired Larimer Associates COO Joe Vostrejs, his brothers Steve and Matt, and Rod Wagner, acquisitions and project management partner for Larimer Associates, to open Teller's Taproom & Kitchen in a former 7-Eleven in Applewood.

"We recognized that the neighborhood really needed something like this, a third place to hang out, drink great beers and eat great food after spending time at work and at home," says Steve Vostrejs, who inked the deal on the space eighteen months ago and completely gutted both the exterior and the interior.

"It's a comfortable place to hang out, whether you just want a beer at the bar or you want to bring in the family and eat," echoes GM Chris Cunningham. "We're excited to fill a niche that the community has been missing -- a nice neighborhood restaurant and bar for people to come and commune."

And the space, which Vostrejs describes as "steampunk" -- an intersection, he says, "of the Victorian era and modern industrial," achieves that and more: The marble-topped 1890s mahogany bar, which originally resided in the Lamar train station, overlooks thirty tap handles, thirteen of which are brewed in Colorado, and they're poured in appropriate glassware, including double steins if you're ordering a domestic brew. There's a long community table for conversing; sodas, iced tea and water are served in Mason jars; the chairs are all mismatched; modern garage doors open to a covered patio; the wooden booths are complemented by black park-bench seating, and just outside the partially open kitchen hangs a chalkboard that lists the local breweries and food purveyors with whom Teller's has partnerships. "Eat local/drink local is a huge component of what we're doing here," explains Cunningham, who designed the beer syllabus. "We want to support local businesses as much as possible, and as we move forward, those partnerships will continue to evolve and grow."

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As will the menu, which currently hustles 100 percent Angus beer burgers; beer-battered fish and chips, made with fresh cod; oysters and mussels; starters like fried Brussels sprouts; salads and housemade soups; and sandwiches like the "Melted Monk," crafted with Chimay cheese, Granny Smith apples and onions caramelized in Colorado honey.

"We're starting a new dinner menu in a few weeks, where we'll be adding half-roasted chickens, barbecued ribs, a killer meatloaf and different steaks," says Vostrejs, adding that weekend brunch -- including mimosas and bloody Marys -- is also on the horizon. "We're taking our time, because we want to get everything right, but so far, our guests -- I call them urban-suburbanites -- love what we're doing, and we're a having a lot of fun doing it."

Teller's is open daily for lunch, dinner and happy hour. For more info, call 303-237-1002.

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