As restaurateurs dig into old spaces, they unearth surprising pieces of Denver’s past.
If you’ve ever moved into an old house, you’ve likely uncovered some piece of the previous residents’ past stashed in an attic corner or a forgotten box in the basement: license plates, old books, antique doorknobs. Maybe you’ve even found a carefully rolled American flag, as I once did.
Restaurant spaces are no exception. Construction at Union Station—which is making way for, among other things, restaurants such as Snooze, the Kitchen Next Door, and a new spot from Fruition chef-owner Alex Seidel—has already turned up newspapers, coins, and a stretcher from World War I. Kimbal Musk, owner of the Kitchen Next Door, discovered the train station’s original arrival and departure chalkboards, complete with handwritten times and baggage claim info.
When Nelson Perkins, chef-owner of Colt & Gray, expanded his space on Platte Street, he discovered a bricked-over room stashed with hundreds of pre-Prohibition glass bottles, including many from the City Bottling Company. Although some of the bottles were broken, many were in good enough shape to use as design elements in the restaurant’s new space.
Perhaps the most interesting, almost eerie artifact turned up in Jefferson Park, where construction on Sarto’s, a forthcoming Italian restaurant, revealed Popex popcorn seasoning tins from the theater that once sat across the street and a metal sign for Rainbow Bread—the company that employed Sarto’s executive chef Brian Laird’s father for 30 years. Cue the Twilight Zone theme.