The hard-to-find international flavors of Kit-Kat and Lay’s you didn’t know you needed are now on South Broadway

It’s a Bodega brings together Unicorn Froot Loops and sneakerhead culture influences in Platt Park.
8 min. read
Travis Maynard (left) and KC Christian stand inside It’s a Bodega on South Broadway. Aug. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Bacon and camembert cheese. Fried chicken. Hot chili squid. Avocado and cheese.

No, these aren't concoction thought up at 2 a.m. after a few bowl hits on the couch watching "House of the Dragon." They're legit flavored snacks found all across the world -- bacon and camembert cheese-flavored Cheetos and hot chili squid Lay's chips, to be exact -- but there's no need to travel to Japan for the exclusive finds.

Head to Platt Park and on Broadway between Louisiana and Arizona there it is: It's a Bodega, a shop curating and selling the crazy flavored goods -- even the infamous white peach-flavored Fanta -- run by KC Christian.

A global collection of chips for sale in It's a Bodega's spot in Platt Park. Aug. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

"People love their junk food," Christian said. "They love snacks and I'm a big snacker myself. Everyone loves trying new products. They love coming in and discovering new things or finding things they haven't seen in years. I tell customers all the time if there's something they're looking for, I would love to be able to ask my suppliers for them."

Christian is from Dallas and moved to Denver around 2015. He started working for a sneaker boutique but around that time he also developed a penchant for traveling because of his friends in the military. Christian said he'd visit his friends in countries like Japan, Australia, the U.K. (London is his favorite destination) and when they took him around town, they'd introduce him to all types of foods and snacks.

"Part of traveling is being able to eat different foods," Christian said. "That's how you can experience different cultures is through their food. Snacks are my thing, so it was natural for me to gravitate toward the different snacks in the different parts of the world. It's crazy how you see the brands that you grew up with but in flavors that you're like, 'Wow I didn't know this existed.'"

It's a Bodega's spot in Platt Park. Aug. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

So, Christian started bringing the snacks back home and his stateside friends would want to try them. Soon, whenever he went out of town, they'd make requests and want to buy some of the snacks from him. Then, the light bulb moment hit for Christian: Why not sell them to all Denverites?

Christian started getting his overseas friends to connect him with different distributors and he started building relationships with them through social media and What's App. He'd get their catalogs and place orders he knew he would like. Again, the man's a snacker.

Boo-Berry on sale at It's a Bodega's spot in Platt Park. Aug. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

In 2019, Christian started doing pop-ups around the city, selling the quirky chips, chocolates, candy and soda. He also established an online marketplace for folks to place orders. In October 2020, Christian opened a brick and mortar location in Cap Hill.

The problem with the Cap Hill spot was also what added some allure to the Bodega. It was located inside an office building. Customers needed a code to enter, then they'd walk down a long highway to get the Bodega. Mysterious, yes. Practical, not so much.

"I called it my little snack-easy," Christian said. "You had to know about the location. People enjoyed the intimate shopping experience... but it wasn't convenient. It was originally an office space not intended to be a retail store. There was no foot traffic."

KC Christian, owner of It's a Bodega, holds some unconventional Fanta flavors. Aug. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Christian said when they got the opportunity to move the store to its current Broadway location, forgoing the exclusiveness was for the better.

Now, the brand is celebrating its three-year anniversary.

When you walk in, you're greeted by a big logo on the back wall surrounded by box-shaped faces. Some wear hats and others are eating but it immediately adds to the trippy vibe. On one wall, there's coolers filled with random Capri-Suns, elusive Fantas like the white peach from Japan, passionfruit from Portugal, and lemon from the U.K.

There's also old time favorites or limited American editions of sodas, like peach Canada Dry or firework Faygo.

On the other side of the wall is Christian's personal collection of limited edition cereal. Bob Ross Lucky Charms and Good Guys Trix with the nice version of Chucky on the cover. Then there's the chips and cookies. Garlic roasted oyster Lay's from China, cheesecake Kit-Kats from Japan and red velvet Oreos.

KC Christian, owner of It's a Bodega, has his personal collection of rare cereal boxes on display in his Platt Park storefront. Aug. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Christian said he's tried some interesting things over the years but his favorites are fried chicken-flavored Pepsi and tiramisu Oreos.

In between the food, there's the Bodega culture. It's a mix of sneakerhead, anime, pop culture and hip-hop. There's a sneaker vending machine with a pair of Jordan Dark Mochas. For the non-sneakerheads, the Jordans would set you back $170 at retail value, but they sold out on day one, so resale is about $450.

Sneakers available for the skilled inside It's a Bodega's spot in Platt Park. Aug. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Crip-A-Cola and Blood Pop, from an episode of Trigger Warning with Killer Mike, on display inside It's a Bodega's spot in Platt Park. Aug. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Christian said the sneakerhead community gels with the exotic snack community and it makes sense. Sneakerheads will travel far and wide for a pair of limited edition shoes, similar to the way Christian searches for the next weird chip.

He said they're a big portion of his consumer-base, along with marijuana enthusiasts (obviously), Coloradans with military backgrounds and folks who have immigrated here from different countries.

"I take pride in being able to introduce different aspects of the world to people who may be curious about it or maybe who wanted to travel to those places but hadn't had the opportunity," Christian said. "It gives them a chance to walk in someone's footsteps through their food... I've also noticed that we tapped into a customer base of people who are from these different countries and it's bringing back childhood memories."

Christian said the customer base has sustained It's a Bodega and the brand continues to grow. He's hoping they can open up another location soon.

Collectables on display inside It's a Bodega's spot in Platt Park. Aug. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Yu-Gi-Oh! cards on sale in It's a Bodega's spot in Platt Park. Aug. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

So, why call it a bodega? Christian said the bodega aspect came from his time in New York. His dad's family is from the Bronx and whenever he would visit, the corner store was always a destination.

"The concept of bringing all the international flavors and treats is what you experience in the bodegas in New York," Christian said. "It's the international mecca."

Christian isn't going to go full bodega, selling sandwiches or baconeggandcheeses but he said sometimes at events or just big days, he'll host food trucks outside, including Big Apple Bodega food truck that serves their own variations of chopped cheeses, like a Greek-inspired one call the Astoria.

It's a Bodega's "mystery bodega boxes," designed by local artists, on display in the Platt Park storefront. Aug. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Oh, and the Bodega's logo, another homage to New York corner stores. It's a maneki neko or a Japanese lucky cat. If the store doesn't have a cat lounging around looking for pets, it's not a good store.

"We get asked two questions, 'Where's the cat at' and 'Do y'all have chopped cheeses,'" Christian laughed. "We got the cat but we probably wouldn't get a kitchen. We'd love to find a chopped cheese-flavored candy or partner with someone for something like that but you never know what the future has in store."

It's a Bodega's spot in Platt Park. Aug. 16, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Recent Stories