Kevin Gerdeman signed a lease in LoHi, intending to open a restaurant.
But soon after securing the space at 1691 Central St., he was sitting on the patio when a couple people carrying Whole Foods bags walked by.
“I stopped them and asked where they lived and what they bought,” said Gerdeman, 36. “They said they had to go to Whole Foods near Union Station to go to the grocery store, and that it was about a two-hour round trip walking. There’s no grocery element in the Highlands at all — the only option is to walk to a different neighborhood to get groceries.”
The conversation made Gerdeman change his plans. Later this year — ideally by early summer — he will open Northside Eatery + Market there on Central Street, offering a sit-down restaurant, a full bar and a line of grocery staples for sale.
The 3,300-square-foot space previously housed Candela Latin Kitchen, which closed last summer.
“Candela’s fit something like 150 people — that’s just too many seats for me to fill every night,” Gerdeman said. “This seemed like a good way to get rid of some seats, but still maintain a point of sale for people in the neighborhood.”
Gerdeman is calling the marketplace component a bodega, and said it will have pantry staples such as sugar, milk and eggs as well as fresh produce, meat and seasonal items.
“We’re not going to have everything they need, but if I can save them a long grocery run once or twice a week, it’s worth it,” Gerdeman said.
There isn’t a traditional grocery store in LoHi, although that will change later this year when the owner of the former Save-A-Lot at 2630 W. 38th Ave. reopens it as Leever’s Locavore. Right now, there’s the Whole Foods and King Soopers across I-25 in LoDo, and a Safeway near Federal Boulevard in Jefferson Park.
Together, the restaurant and bar will seat about 70 people, Gerdeman said. Eric Seabolt will serve as head chef for the restaurant, which will serve what Gerdeman calls “California cuisine.”
“Technically, it’ll probably be defined as New American cuisine, but we’re trying to go for fresh and healthy, focusing on seasonality,” Gerdeman said. “Produce is a big part of that. I like to make sure that what I’m putting in people’s bodies, they can be happy about — that lends to the idea of California cuisine.”
He hasn’t determined the restaurant’s prices yet, but said he’s “not trying to make the neighborhood pay more just because it’s LoHi.”
“We want to become a spot in the neighborhood where people are comfortable coming every day of the week, whether for brunch, dinner or happy hour,” Gerdeman said.
Northside’s market will be open every day from 7 a.m. to close, while the restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to close Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to close on Saturdays, and for brunch only from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. He’s working with Unum Collaborative to design the space.