Arvada is getting a huge food hall, and there will be fried chicken and cornhole

A hot chicken sandwich from The Budlong Hot Chicken at Zeppelin Station. The Budlong Hot Chicken will be one of the tenants in the planned Freedom Street food hall.(Paul Albani-Burgio/for Denverite)

A hot chicken sandwich from The Budlong Hot Chicken at Zeppelin Station. The Budlong Hot Chicken will be one of the tenants in the planned Freedom Street food hall.(Paul Albani-Burgio/for Denverite)

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By Paul Albani-Burgio, for Denverite

If the city of Denver hasn’t yet reached “peak food hall”, it has to be getting pretty darn close.

The February opening of Broadway Market in Capitol Hill brought the total number of such ever-so-trendy establishments within the Denver city limits alone to at least six (depending on one’s definition of food hall) with one more set to open next spring.

But while central Denver seems destined for a future where a fancy food court can be found on every other block, the dining scene (if it can even be called that) couldn’t be more different around the Candelas development in northwest Arvada. Forget a food hall, there are only a couple of restaurants — period — within several miles of this fast-growing area of former farmland 20 miles northwest of downtown Denver.

But that will change in a big way in the next couple of years as Nick Costanzo, the owner of the Marco’s Pizza franchise that is currently one of the area’s only restaurants, is planning to build a new 12,000-square-foot food hall and community gathering space near the intersection of Indiana Street and West 91st Avenue in Candelas.

The new space, which will be named Freedom Street after the Ohio street where Costanzo’s food-loving grandmother lived, will be built from the ground up and feature around eight food vendors along with a bar. There will also be a 3,000-square-foot outdoor patio.

“We are trying to bring a little bit of what’s downtown with places like Denver Central Market and Avanti out here to the suburbs so the people out here don’t have to go downtown and maybe get a babysitter and pay them 50 bucks anymore to enjoy something like this,” Costanzo said.

Costanzo, who is planning to populate the hall with existing restaurant brands rather than new concepts, said he has already nailed down several of the hall’s future occupants. Fans of Zeppelin Station will recognize chef Jared Leonard’s The Budlong Hot Chicken, which will be joined in Freedom Street by another new Leonard concept called Hamburger Stan that will serve burgers, shakes and fries (Denver’s first Hamburger Stan just opened in Zeppelin Station).

Also slated for the hall is Conrad’s Grill, a Michigan chain specializing in breakfast and lunch wraps, and Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, which is based in Florida. Costanzo, who wants the hall to offer everything from coffee to dinner options, said he is also in talks with a couple of other brands but cannot announce anything yet. Moving into the hall will also be Costanzo’s Marco’s Pizza franchise currently located at 8560 Five Parks Drive, which will occupy a space separate from the main food hall.

It was Costanzo’s desire to find a larger space for his Marco’s that led him to set his sights on building the food hall after Arvada’s mayor presented him with emails from residents expressing a need for “restaurants, restaurants, restaurants” around Candelas and the nearby Leyden Rock development.

“That’s when I said OK, we need to move into a food hall arena where we can put seven to eight restaurants under one roof and kind of build it around the community that’s out here,” he said. “That’s kind of what our goal is.”

For Costanzo, building Freedom Street around community means building not just “a big restaurant” but a space that will host a wide variety of live entertainment and events, including everything from yoga classes to a gingerbread house competition. Freedom Street will also include an outdoor area similar to the one at the popular LoDo sports bar ViewHouse, with space for cornhole and other games and an outdoor screen for showing movies.

Costanzo, who lives nearby and has two kids, said the hall will also aim to cater to the families that largely populate the area by offering both kid-friendly spaces and an adults-only bar area more suitable for date nights. He is also planning to outfit the space with USB plug-ins, air printers and a private room for video conferences in order to attract the remote workers he hopes will make up the bulk of its daytime crowd.

“We are trying to be everything for everyone as much as we can just because there isn’t much out here yet,” Costanzo said.

Costanzo is aiming to open Freedom Street by the end of 2020 but said an opening date in early 2021 is more realistic. It will be located directly to the west of the King Soopers at 14967 Candelas Parkway.

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