Three years ago, Delores Tronco, the human resources manager of the Vesta Group (Vesta Dipping Grill, Steuben's and Ace), started Denver's food truck revolution with the introduction of the Justice League of Street Food, a local food truck showcase that she, along with Vesta owner Josh Wolkon and several other local chefs, hatched to introduce street-food geeks to the magic that comes things that motor around on four wheels.
See also: - Get in line at the Justice League for Street Food inaugural party - Justice League of Street Food gears up for its second party, this time with a few changes - Justice League of Street Food throws its last bash of the season...and maybe ever
For the past year, her boyfriend Tony Maciag, who's currently tending bar at Rioja, took over Tronco's role, organizing the Justice League bashes that take place during the summer and fall. But behind the scenes, the couple was collaborating on another project: a new restaurant named Work & Class that will open later this fall at 2500 Broadway -- a mixed-use complex at Broadway and Larimer that's pioneered by Denver-based Gravitas Development Group, which is leasing nine tenant spaces in the 7,360-square-foot restaurant, retail and office development.
The name, says Tronco, is a result of a discussion that she and Maciag had about terrines -- and whether or not to include them on the menu. She and Maciag eventually agreed that they wouldn't appear -- that they weren't indicative of their vision. "We want to be working-class restaurant for working-class people -- an every day place where you can come dressed up or dressed down, a place to come when you've gotten a promotion, or you've been fired -- it's very much an upbeat, unpretentious and simple restaurant that welcomes everyone," she reveals.
She and Maciag have hired a household name chef -- although they're not publicly divulging his name just yet -- only that the concept "combines the Peruvian model of roasted, rotisseried and braised meats with the nourishing American soul food model of interesting side dishes and breads."
And, she adds, it's "definitively a new concept for Denver." She notes that she and Maciag "looked at the Denver market and tried to think of what we liked to eat that we couldn't find at a whole lot of other places in Denver." To that end, the kitchen will turn out dishes like cochinita pabil; fried yucca; braised goat or lamb with a guajillo pepper rub; a crispy polenta and tomato salad; a yam and andouille sausage hash; and "City" chicken, which isn't chicken at all. Instead, it's breaded and pan-fried pork and veal cubes on a stick -- and a popular dish at Polish restaurants, and in Detroit, where Maciag was born and raised. "No one here seems to know what it is, but Tony ate it growing up in Detroit and he's semi-obsessed with it," says Tronco.
In keeping with the working class concept, the beverage program -- which Maciag knows a lot about from his various bartending gigs around town, including Euclid Hall -- won't focus on the current mixology trend. "The ethos of our bar is simple, and that means no mixology," says Tronco. Instead, Maciag will utilize his beer background to create a strong craft brew lineup backed by keg wines and small batch spirits...served naked or with minimal flourish. "Tony will take a great gin and serve it on the rocks so that guests can discover how great it is without a ton of other ingredients -- we want the spirits to stand on their own, just like the food; we don't want twenty different touches," she says.
A chef's counter and a partially open kitchen will round out the fifty-seat space, and Tronco says that she's ready to see it all come to fruition. "I come from a huge family, and I've wanted to have my own restaurant ever since I was a kid, and while I've had different careers in my life, I've always gone back to restaurants, and we're super-stoked to be a part of the creative, industrial and entrepreneurial character of the North Larimer corridor," she says. "This is really and truly the thing that we most want to do, and we're excited to do it in Denver, plus my brother is moving down from Fort Collins to work with us, and I'm super-excited about that, too."
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When it opens, Work & Class will serve dinner Tuesday through Sunday.