When Pollyanna Forster opened Eat! Drink!, an artisan cheese boutique, charcuterie parlor, chocolate stop and wine shop in Edwards, just outside Vail, in 2004, Valley residents immediately embraced it, and now Forster is hoping that Denverites will do the same when she unveils Eat+Drink in Denver next month at 1541 Platte Street, in the former space of Nosh Nest (and, before that, Wen Chocolates).
"I realized that I'm in my forties, and that I wanted to do something in a dynamic city like Denver. We have eight years under our belt in the Vail Valley, and we're excited to see what Denver has to offer," says Forster, who admits that it took a good two years to find a spot. "We looked in Boulder and Denver for more than two years, driving down the mountain every Thursday for lunch before driving all over the place looking for the perfect space," she adds, noting that she and her husband, Chris Irving, nearly inked a deal on the former Squeaky Bean quarters in Highland, which has since been leased to Jezebel's, a Southern restaurant by Scott Durrah and Wanda James, who used to own 8 Rivers in LoDo.
"The landlord chose them over us because they live in the neighborhood, but everything happens for a reason, and we're subleasing this space for the first year from the owners of the Savory Spice Shop right next door, and they've welcomed us with open arms," says Forster, who plans to launch Eat+Drink in mid-July, beginning with a series of meet-and-greets and midnight dinners. "We want to get to know the people in the neighborhood and beyond, so we'll do some soft openings and then have a few midnight cheese-centric dinners, mainly for industry people who can't get here earlier," she reveals.
When Eat+Drink opens in its small digs -- the square footage is just over 600 -- it won't have the wine-shop component that it does in Edwards, a decision, says Forster, that was deliberate. "We want to enrich and be part of this neighborhood, not compete with it, and we already have Corks, a great wine shop, on the street, so while we'll serve wine and beer, we won't do a wine shop."
And although Forster has a full liquor license, she'll only pour beer and wine -- including her own label -- to complement the menu of panini, charcuterie boards and artisan cheeses, of which there are at least 100 at any given time. "We've got amazing cheeses from all over the world, lots of different sandwiches, some great charcuterie that we'll be getting from St. Ellie, the new charcuterie bar at Colt & Gray, as well as Il Mondo Vecchio, Olympic Provisions in Portland and Salumi Artisan Cured Meats in Seattle," she says, adding that the restaurant and marketplace will also stock forty wines, all available by the glass. "The wine selection is fantastic, and we'll pour own own Muse wines -- a cava, a tempranillo, a verdejo and a rosé -- plus, we'll have six or eight beers from Denver Beer Co and Crazy Mountain Brewery in Vail," she notes.
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And in addition to all of that, Forster plans to sell chocolates from Mast Brothers, a company in Brooklyn that's renowned for its handcrafted single-estate and single-origin chocolates; she'll also host several classes, where she'll pair cheeses with beer, wine and spices.
I'm super-excited to be here," says Forster. "Everything about this neighborhood -- everything about this street -- reminds me of the Ferry Building in San Francisco. It just feels really good to me, and I can't wait to open."
When Eat+Drink unlocks its doors, it will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily; for more info, call 303-477-3288.