Step into The Preservery, and the first thing you might notice is the old upright piano in the corner, bedecked with booklets of well-loved sheet music and surrounded by books, art, artifacts, and family photos.
Or, maybe it’s the marketplace, in which an entire cart is dedicated to artisan chocolates. Shelves of brightly colored Modern Gingham Preserves and Saso Pepper Company hot sauces share space with Noosa Yoghurts, small-batch granola, and a case of charcuterie and cheese selections.
Or, the food coming from the open kitchen might catch your eye: buttery kouign-amann pastries, chicken salad sandwiches on freshly baked bread, halibut swimming in saffron broth.
In short: The Preservery’s varied offerings can make your head spin. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Check. Bakery? Check. Full bar? Check. Artisan marketplace? Check. Music venue? Check. Located in the Backyard on Blake, this ambitious project was more than two years in the making. Co-owners (and husband and wife) Dr. Obe Ariss and Whitney Ariss aimed to create the sort of community-minded place that performs multiple functions. And from what we’ve seen, they’ve succeeded.
While The Preservery’s inspiration might not be obvious in the cookery or decor, Whitney says that the initial idea stemmed from a trip her and Obe took to New Orleans. “In New Orleans,” she explains, “music and food are interwoven into the fabric of culture. Businesses really integrate into the community. It just became obvious to us that it’s all about community.”
That translates to an airy yet comfortable space, one with plenty of room for community gatherings and live music performances. But it also translates to taking care of their staffers. “You don’t have to tip here,” says Whitney. “We pay a living wage to staff and embrace collaborative decision making. We want these to be nourishing, wholesome jobs.” That philosophy must have appeal, because the opening staff includes alums of both Acorn and Frasca Food and Wine.
Another way that the community-first ethos plays out is with the sourcing policy. The Preservery has embraced what Whitney has dubbed “storied ingredients.” In her mind, these are products with integrity—local Yarmony Ranch beef, Anson Mills grains, Rancho Gordo beans. As a former chocolate buyer at Boulder’s Whole Foods Market, Whitney has paid special attention to curating a top-notch collection of bean-to-bar chocolates at The Preservery, including selections from local favorite, Ritual Chocolate.
As for the actual menu, it’s straightforward, yet thoughtful. Breakfast is more of a continental affair, with pastries and bowls of Anson Mills oatmeal or grits. Lunch treads on familiar fast-casual territory with a selection of salads, soups, and sandwiches, but the amped up creations are anything but pedestrian. Think escolar on brioche with turmeric jam and dill, or pig ear on ciabatta with smoked tomato sauce, eggplant, and buffalo mozzarella. And at dinner, you’ll find the sort of ambitious cooking that most fast-casual spots wouldn’t dare attempt, from baked clams with escargot butter and baguette to braised rabbit in vinegar sauce with cornichons and parsley.
Sound like a lot to take in? It is. Experience it for yourself at the Preservery’s grand opening party on Friday night, or, wait until Tuesday when the restaurant will be fully up and running for normal hours.
Visit: 3040 Blake St., #101, 303-298-6995; Open Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.