Three Denver snack-food entrepreneurs are building what they hope will be the last stop on the way to the airport, and your first stop after getting off the train at Union Station.
Sugarlicious owner Jill Alfond, and City Pop owners Chris Zettle and James Stefankiewicz, plan to open the Local(ish) later this year, next to the RTD commuter rail stop at Wewatta and 16th streets.
Zettle said it’s a grab-and-go food spot and terminal bar mixed with an airport convenience store.
“Think of it as a Hudson News on steroids,” Zettle said.
Zettle, Stefankiewicz and Alfond plan to invest about $500,000 to outfit the Local(ish). That’s $350,000 to $400,000 in construction costs and another $50,000 to $100,000 of startup inventory.
The partners leased 2,200 square feet in the A Block building, a mixed-use project Continuum Partners is developing behind the Antero Resources building at Union Station.
The Local(ish) will feature a food menu, coffee from Corvus Coffee, and beer and wine. The shop also will carry sweets from Sugarlicious and popcorn by City Pop, as well as assorted sundries for travelers coming through Union Station.
“When you’re ready to take the A train to Denver International Airport or make a connection to any of the RTD routes, or even jump on the light rail, you’ll be able to swing into the Local(ish) and kind of get the best of Denver,” Zettle said.
The Local(ish) will be the first time its three co-owners have teamed up on a food-related venture, though they all sold snack foods locally through separate small businesses.
Zettle and Stefankiewicz own popcorn spot City Pop, which has locations downtown and in Centennial. Alfond owned Sugarlicious, a candy store that sold sweets from a Third Avenue storefront in Cherry Creek.
Zettle said the City Pop and Sugarlicious crews got to know each other through working in the same industry before investing in the Local(ish) together.
“We referred a lot of business back and forth,” he said. “And from there we hit it off and thought, ‘Why can’t we take some of these ideas we have and make them into something better?'”
Plans include a small dining area, but no table service.
Broker Mark Williford of SullivanHayes helped find the location. He said the group started looking for space in June last year and finalized the lease 12 months later.
“It’s really catering to transit, which is why we picked this space, but it’s also catering to the Crawford Hotel and the people who work and live nearby,” Williford said.
Zettle said the Local(ish) signed a 10-year lease with a five-year extension option.
“It will be the only retail space that’s directly exposed to train traffic,” Williford said. “The other retail stalls aren’t necessarily off the beaten path but aren’t right in customer eyesight.”
Zettle expects to take the space from Continuum Partners in September. He’s planning a few more months of tenant improvements and hopes to have the Local(ish) up and running by the end of the year.
While the beer, snacks and some other products will be locally sourced, Zettle said the company won’t be a stickler about making everything local.
“A lot of restaurants and new businesses that open like to sell the fact that they’re locally owned, locally sourced,” he said. “And at some point it’s starting to lose its value, or its ‘wow factor.’
“We’ll claim that we’re local-ish, but we’re not going to sacrifice the everyday things. If you want a Diet Coke, we’re going to get you a Diet Coke.”