Avanti Food & Beverage, a collective culinary emporium, opening in LoHi
Courtesy Meridian 105 Architecture
Late last year, Brad Arguello, one of the founders of Über Sausage, a hot dog joint with locations on East Colfax and in LoHi, parted ways with his partners over what he calls "creative differences." But that break-up turned out to be the beginning of a new relationship for Arguello, who, along with business partners Patrick O'Neill (owner of Choppers Custom Salads and founder of The Club, in Vail), and Rob Hahn, co-founder and head of GRT, a LoHi real estate investment and development group that's backing the project, are gracing the Mile High City with Avanti Food & Beverage, a caboodle of eight shipping containers, all of which are designed to give cooks, chefs and restaurateurs the opportunity to test their dream concepts in a marketplace setting, sans the prohibitive costs -- and uneasy risks -- associated with opening a brick-and-mortar.
"Patrick and Rob were friends, and Patrick and I knew each other from our respective restaurants, so I approached him after I left Uber, because I wanted to do a fast-casual dim sum restaurant, and Rob had ideas about doing something similar to the San Miguel Market in Madrid [Spain], and those ideas eventually lead to all of us chatting about doing something bigger," namely a shipping container project, explains Arguello, that equates to a think-tank for enterprising culinarians. "It's like a food truck pod," he says, "except that the containers will be fixed, standalone food units that double as an incubation gathering platform for chefs and restaurateurs to dial in their menu, dial in their business model, and, most important, dial in their food without losing their shirt in the process." Think of this, suggests Arguello, as "a way to prove your concept and make sure that the public likes it before you pour every cent you have into a brick-and-mortar."
Those who lease a space pay a flat monthly fee, plus a small percentage of sales -- but the price of participation comes with perks, including business plan development expertise; marketing and public relations assistance; coverage of all front-of-house expenses; checklists and timelines to assist tenants before they open; professional kitchen equipment; a digital menu board (think train station flip board); and complimentary valet and common area maintenance. Tenants have leasing options of nine months, one year or a year-and-a-half.
Built in 1935, the multilevel, high-ceilinged, windowed space originally housed Gildersleeve's, a neighborhood drugstore. Two additions were erected during the mid century, and the entire building became an engine reconditioning shop until Avanti Printing & Graphics opened in 1991. While the printing company has since relocated, owners Brian and Chuck Hunter sold the building to Hahn, says Arguello, because of "Rob's commitment and desire to maintain the integrity of the building and make it into a special landmark within the community." In other words, preserve the rusticity and industrial elements -- and the enviable views.
"The design aesthetic will be a combination of industrial, modern and utilitarian -- think cool enough for millennial yet inviting enough for fifty-year old empty nesters to dine and drink comfortably," says Arguello. "We're establishing appeal for the broad demographic of the neighborhood itself," he adds.