The Function of the One

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Imagine, if you will, that Underbelly, the Houston Dairymaids, Blacksmith, Revival Market, Slow Dough Bread Co., a Jester King Brewery taproom, and a host of other creative companies from graphic designers to florists were housed in the same repurposed Houston industrial building. It almost warrants a movie trailer intro: “In a world….” where this is possible, where else would you need to go?

thesourceConnotations of the word “source” include everything from the prosaic Merriam’s-style “place where you get things” to the arcane Matrix-style existential wellspring of a species or culture. In Denver’s River North district, the Source embodies the full range of its definition: a repurposed foundry where one acquires basic goods yet can’t help but viscerally feel there is a larger movement afoot. Start-up costs and real estate can be prohibitively expensive for a small business, so it makes sense for a number of ventures to go in together on a collective co-op. The Source just happens to have assembled a perfect storm of artisanal vendors that appeal to the modern consumer, be they eco-conscious or merely discerning, hippy, hipster, or yuccie.

Bon Appetit Acorn

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The primary draw on the evening we visited was a stop at Crooked Stave, a sour and wild ale brewery with a taproom housed at the back of the space. However, upon entering, we couldn’t help but put our names down at Acorn, the sister restaurant to Boulder’s Oak at Fourteenth and highly regarded in its own right, one of Bon Appétit’s 50 best new restaurants. We didn’t have reservations, but the accommodating hostess thought she could squeeze us in at the chef’s counter in an hour or two. Ample time, I thought, to tackle the taplist at Crooked Stave. Making good on their promise, we sat down later and owner/chef Steven Redzikowski did not disappoint with seasonal, wood fired dishes from mammoth lengths of bone marrow to delicate coal roasted beets to razor clam ceviche. The 1-2 punch was completed by beverage director Bryan Dayton with everything from complex house cocktails to simple yet deftly executed Old Fashioneds.

Common-Area-SourceThe rest of the space is filled out by Babette’s Artisan Bakers, Boxcar Coffee Roasters, a cheese and spice shop called Mondo Market, specialty bottle shop the Proper Pour, Comida taquería, and others, including the design firm behind the Source’s logo and Slow Food Denver, a chapter of local and fair trade group Slow Food USA and Slow Food International. In the middle of the common area sits the Yacht Club, a full service bar serving craft beer and cocktails as well as small plates from Acorn. A relaxed spot for chefs and staff getting off work to relax alongside patrons after shops start closing up, or just to watch people wandering about with their aged goudas and flaky croissants.

WhoaWould that Houston had such a one-stop shop; I might never leave. It’d be easy to just park oneself with a book or a laptop from soup to nuts, grabbing lunch, groceries, dinner, and drinks without ever unplugging. Recently opened Weights + Measures has launched inside a mid-century industrial warehouse on Caroline St, espousing a similar philosophy, with coffee, wine, bakery, and restaurant. “In a world…” where Houston has the Source?

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