Last September, Kyle and Fallene Wells, owners of Park Hill coffee shop Torpedo Coffee, took over the former White Whale space at 415 South Cherokee Street. While they had originally hoped for an early-November opening of their new venture, Close Quarters, February 11 marked the soft opening, with the grand opening scheduled for March 2.
"We decided to do a soft opening because we have different concepts than at Torpedo and wanted to give ourselves time to work out the kinks," Kyle explains. While Torpedo focuses on coffee and more basic cafe food, Close Quarters acquired a liquor license along with the sale of the White Whale business, and will also offer an expanded food menu.
"We have a travel-inspired menu, but it leans Mediterranean," he adds. Options include classic dips like hummus and baba ganoush, warm mixed olives, fattoush and tomato salads, as well as savory and sweet empanadas and changing waffle styles, with more items including brunch to be added after the grand opening.
"We're still trying to keep it like Torpedo in the sense that we’re doing locally sourced things," says Wells. Baguettes from Rebel Bread can be found alongside Red Camper's orange absinthe marmalade on the antipasto plate, and Close Quarters ciabatta sandwiches, such as an egg and kale pesto breakfast sandwich.
Steps from the light-rail station, the spot feels less neighborhood-centric than its Park Hill counterpart, serving transit riders, residents from the high-rise apartment above, and employees from the nearby design center. "White Whale didn't open a lot in the mornings, and then it was closed, and some people weren't sure if it was going to open back up," the owner notes. Because of the inconsistency and closure, they've had to do some marketing and rebranding to spread the word that Close Quarters is open for business under new ownership. So far, they've been met with pleasant surprises from commuting customers who are now able to get their morning coffee starting at 6:30 a.m., such as a patron who's stopped in every day at precisely that time to start his day with the Full Speed Ahead — Torpedo's version of a Shot in the Dark (a cup of brewed coffee bolstered with a double espresso).
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Along with coffee standards made with Corvus Coffee, Close Quarters serves kombucha and nitro cold brew on tap, plus six Colorado brews, eight locally sourced wines and a variety of classic cocktails. The signature non-alcoholic drinks include a lavender fog latte and a turmeric Thai tea latte.
"It was a little bit more time-consuming than we expected, especially from the inspection perspective with the city," says Wells. "We completely redid the floors, painted the entire space, did the counters, added shelving, and there used to be a stage, but it's now a food prep area. It turned out very much what we were looking for."
See for yourself from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays (including happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m.) and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday following the grand opening. Call 303-722-0397 for details.