Exclusive: The Populist's Noah Price opening Finn's Manor, a food truck pod and cocktail bar
April Fool's Day was no joke for Noah Price, co-owner of the Populist and Crema Coffee House. That's the day he inked a lease on Finn's Manor, a food truck courtyard and cocktail bar that will occupy a former 7,000-square-foot auto parts salvage shop at 2927 Larimer Street, just a few blocks away from the Populist and Crema.
"My business partner, Thomas Taylor, owns the space with his family, and he loves beer, so he was initially planning to do a brewery, but there are plenty of breweries down here already," acknowledges Price, who then introduced Taylor to whiskey wizard Robert Sickler. And Sickler, who, for the past ten years, has been a Master of Whisky for Diageo, representing the company's whisky brands -- both locally and nationally -- through trainings, seminars, consumer tastings and dinners, joined the duo as the third owner. The trio sat down together, recalls Price, and hatched an idea to give Denver's food trucks a pod to park their wheels...year around.
"I grew up in Telluride vending with my dad, who sold stir-fries in the parking lots of Grateful Dead concerts around the country, and I love the mobile food movement in Denver, plus what we're doing here is good for the economic growth of food trucks, and it's a pod that doesn't shut down in the wintertime, so we're giving trucks the benefit of being able to serve -- and sell food -- all year long," says Price.
More than 6,000 square feet will be dedicated to food trucks, adds Price, noting that the concreted outdoor space, which backs up to an alley, is large enough to accommodate six to eight trucks at any one time -- and the trucks will rotate daily, giving hungry patrons the opportunity to sample several different cuisines, and the cooks manning the mobile kitchens the chance to showcase their foodstuffs to wide audiences.
Price plans to reface the grafittied front exterior (if budget allows, it'll be brick) and bedeck the food truck strip, which is partially covered, with picnic tables constructed from the salvaged wood the partners ripped off the existing roof, high-top tables, two bathrooms, flowers and other foliage, a tub with bottled beers and wines and, in the winter, heaters to chase away the chill. "We like the grittiness of it, and we're going to keep it rustic, but we'll spruce it up to make it a great place for people to eat and drink," says Price.
And while there will be plenty of seating outside to accommodate the crowds, Price and his partners aren't stopping there: Along with rehabbing the outdoor plot, they're making very good use of the interior, which, decades ago, was someone's single-family home. The peak-roofed structure, walled in weathered brick, will become the manor bar, a watering hole, says Price, that's reminiscent of a "voodoo-Moroccan-Mexican-New Orleans-gypsy-caravan vibe." Or, more simply, a little of this and a little of that, some "vagabond Americana" and a finished space that will be dictated by "whatever we can find for for cheap or free. That's our design style," quips Price.
"We'll leave a lot to leave a lot of the existing brick, redo the floors with wood we saved from the roof, and we'll also have elaborate Turkish lights, voodoo skulls, a few machetes and lots of other cool relics and fun stuff that will give it a cool southern feel," he adds.