Nikki Hazamy and Donna Dempsey started Gypsy Juice over the summer, selling cold-pressed juices at music festivals and other special events around the state. In August, they opened a brick-and-mortar shop in Capitol Hill to serve juice and coffee to the neighborhood. But something was missing; with such a sunny, welcoming corner cafe, the two wanted customers to stay a while. So the Corner Beet, as Hazami and Dempsey named the cafe, is now also serving vegetarian breakfast and lunch to go with the raw, organic juice that gave the owners their start.
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Hazamy says she decided to start juicing professionally after moving to Denver and realizing there weren't too many options for fresh vegetable-based juices. "I was living in New Jersey and needed a change," she explains, "so I packed everything up and moved to Denver. But I couldn't find cold-pressed juice."
She met Dempsey and the two put together some recipes, experimenting during late-night juicing sessions while maintaining day jobs. Once they got the juice business going, it caught on quickly. They sold out at the 420 Festival and attracted notice at the Big Wonderful -- Daniel Asher, culinary director of Root Down and Linger, was impressed enough to add Gypsy Juice to Root Down's raw food nights.
Gypsy Juice was a great name for a mobile vendor, but Hazamy and Dempsey knew they eventually wanted to expand their offerings, so when they opened their cafe, they named it the Corner Beet. The offerings there now include vegetarian toast, sandwiches, soups and salads, along with several varieties of juice and Copper Door coffee. Hazamy delved into her Lebanese family's recipes for the soups, which include Mediterranean lentil, potato leek and a rotating selection of daily specials. The sandwiches also encompass Mediterranean flavors, with house-made hummus, olive tapenade, feta cheese, pesto and roasted red peppers featured as toppings. All of the sandwiches are vegetarian and can be made vegan and gluten-free on request, using onion flatbread from raw-food eatery Nectar House as the base.
Toast comes in a variety of sweet and savory options, built on organic ciabatta bread. "We just really love toast," says Hazamy. "It's simple and soul-satisfying." As a toast topping along with the local jams and organic peanut butter, she created "beet butter," which is nothing more than cooked and pureed beets mixed with honey and butter. The flavor is mild and sweet, with just a hint of earthiness from the beets.
The cold-pressed juice, which never sees plastic bottles and is sweetened only with juiced apples, comes in vivid colors and flavors, with fresh ginger spiking many of the blends. The bright green Bon Vivant features the juice of kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, cucumber and parsley, while the Galbi (named for a Hungarian gold coin) is made from carrots, apple, turmeric and ginger. All of the vegetables used for the juices are organic, too, which Dempsey says is very important to her.
Everything at the Corner Beet is vegetarian; you won't find any meat or dairy substitutes here. Eggs, cheese and butter can be left off the menu items to make them vegan, and replaced with more of the vegetable and legume-based ingredients. "We like that we don't have soy substitutes," says Dempsey. "The food is made fresh -- it's nothing fancy."
The Corner Beet is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
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Keep reading for more photos from the Corner Beet.