The Stanley Marketplace flies high, fully open on May 1

In Aurora, roughly fifteen minutes from downtown Denver, the Stanley Marketplace is creating synergy. Drawing in a multitude of restaurants, breweries and shops that are speaking to the concept of collectivity and craft. The space was once home to Stanley Aviation, a large airplane manufacturing facility responsible for many technological advancements in their field, like the ejector seat.

Now “The Hangar” where history was made, will be available for private events and hosting upcoming pairing dinners, pop up markets and art festivals.

The Hangar will be home to upcoming events and available to rent out.

We took a drive up to this unique part of town for a media event on Tuesday, February 28, to meet some of the Stanley’s current and upcoming occupants. Eating and drinking our way around the world as they were showcasing their eclectic range of cuisine.

We spoke with one of the main developers and co-owner of Stanley Beer Hall, Mark Shaker. Discussing how the concept for this budding community space was born out of the hopes he and some buddies had to set up a local beirgarten.

“My friends and I wanted to create a local hang out,” says Shaker. “We spoke at a community meeting, shared our vision and an article ran in the Front Porch.”

“The city of Aurora saw the piece and loved it,” says Shaker. “There was a desire there and the spot was ripe for development.”

Mark Shaker, developer, speaking to the business owners and media about the concept of the Stanley marketplace.

“The Stanley had been abandoned for years, but it was a fascinating structure,” says Shaker. At 140,000 square feet, “this would be the biggest beer garden in the history of man kind.”

“We didn’t have the capacity to do anything further, but we decided to package all these concepts together,” says Shaker. “Rethink our original plan on a grand scale.”

The area in total encompasses 22 acres, with three set aside for certain vendors to use for their farming needs.

“A couple groups have separate plots designated and some that are dedicated to local non-profits and refugee groups,” says Shaker. “It’s a cool use of that space, group specific for planting.”

Currently, there are 27 vendors, which will keep growing to comprise 54 total, by May 1, this year. Seventeen of those spots, are first time businesses, including butchery and charcuterie shop, The Juniper Pig.

“We really spent a significant effort getting to know the business owners,” says Shaker. “We’re tenants too so we asked ourselves, who do we want to be working next door to for the next ten years?”

“And we secret shopped them like crazy,” says Shaker. “It’s when they don’t know you’re there that tells you a lot. By your third or fourth visit you can get a really good feel on their attention to detail and service.”

Business owners from the Stanley coming together.

The businesses setting up shop in the Stanley are not competing with each other but keeping their channels of creativity open and a willingness to adapt.

“We want to share an ecosystem of businesses that collaborate and that are on an upward trajectory,” says Shaker. “Looking for skill sets and acumen that fit within our community. To find out who was serious, we served as or hired on advisors and consultants, that helped them work through and to improve upon their business plans.”

Some of the residents at the Stanley are already well-known in Denver and are pushing their name outside of city limits. Like Denver Biscuit Co., Atomic Cowboy and Fat Sully’s pizza. The sought-after breakfast destination, Denver Biscuit Co. will feature “Biscuits all Day” at their new location.

“You can have the Franklin for dinner and no one judges,” says Kelly Lyons, office manager and food truck coordinator.

Bringing back brinner.

Fresh biscuits, fried chicken, pickles and country gravy, anytime you want.

Denver winery, The Infinite Monkey Theorem, is opening a “tap room that is an extension of our existing facility,” says winemaker and owner, Ben Parsons. Giving local residents a closer venue to enjoy Parson’s vino.

“This is an underserviced area,” says Parsons, recognizing the opportunity.

Infinite Monkey is experimenting with their nectar, releasing the first dry hopped wine in the United States. A sauvignon blanc, available in cans. Being advertised as, “ridiculously good wine, you can drink anywhere.”

A slightly sweet and tart, easy-drinking wine, canned for convenience.

Food trucks, like Rolling Smoke BBQ are establishing their first “brick and mortar” in mid-April, with Mid-western style, dry-rubbed barbecue. Smoking their meats on a combination of peach and pecan wood, they’re infusing a sweetness into their smokey meats and sides.

We were digging the Kansas City burnt ends, the Carolina honey-bourbon sausage and the mac and cheese.

Meaty, thick brisket with a solid, top layer of flavor.
Fall-off-the-bone ribs.

Sazza Restaurant will be opening their second location in April, providing an expanded menu of pizza, salads, calzones, appetizers and desserts.

We got to sample their Colorado meatballs using Grant Family Farms lamb. Rich flavors of fennel and mint with a house-made Tzatziki sauce.

A fresh, sunshine salad using One Town Farms field greens, tomatoes, green bell peppers, cucumbers, garbanzo beans, avocado and cheddar cheese, topped with a creamy lemon vinaigrette.

The signature dessert pizza, made with brown sugar, butter, blueberries, strawberries, streusel topping and drizzled with sweetened marscapone icing.

Sazza maintains a high standard of “clean food” with no hormones, opting for mostly organic and locally sourced ingredients. Sazza will be keeping their food close, using half an acre on site to grow their own produce.

Sunshine salad, dessert pizza and Colorado lamb meatballs from Sazza.

New brewery, Cheluna Brewing Co. is setting up their first public facility and tap room with ten to twelve beers and offering custom brewing services. Run by husband and wife team, Javier and Jennifer Perez, they’re bringing their “Mexican flair” to Colorado beer.

“We will soon release our Mexican Imperial Stout, which is delicious and comes in right around 12 percent ABV,” says manager and co-owner, Jennifer Perez. “We’ve taken delivery of Infinite Monkey Theorem wine barrels in which we will age some of our beer, and that will be ready before the end of March. We are actively working on delivery of mezcal barrels from Oaxaca, also.”

Mexican-inspired beer lends itself to the decor and cool vibe in their tasting room.

Upcoming festival appearances start on Thursday, March 16, at the New Kids on the Block beer festival. Highlighting new breweries and throwing in an 80’s dance party. They will also be pouring at the fourth-annual Collaboration Fest in Denver on Saturday, March 25, partnering with Spice Trade Brewing (formerly Yak and Yeti).

We were sipping on the Coco Xoco Porter, which had thirty pounds of toasted coconut floated on the top of the fermenter. Courtesy of the Stanley’s chocolate shop, Miette et Chocolat.

Stanley Beer Hall, which arguably started it all, is a 4,500 square foot, contemporary restaurant and tap room with an impressive 5,000 square foot adjoining patio.

“We have a really nice outdoor space, so there will be lots of events at Stanley Beer Hall,” promises co-owner, Mark Shaker.

No brewing is done on site, but there are thirty guest taps full of choice Colorado microbrews. Lots of additional options are available from fellow craft beer states, like California and Oregon. Plus, an international bottle list.

Colorado Springs native and head chef, Anna Walter, was offering us a taste of their menu.  Juicy, bone-in, buttermilk, rotisserie chicken alongside an arugula salad.

“We just want people to show up, hang out,” says Walter.

We love this pairing.

Stanley Beer Hall is definitely straying away from conventional, Deutschland restaurants you’re familiar with.

“We’re trying to break free of traditional Germanic style,” says managing partner, Dustin Skudlarek.

Added bonus, their growlers are cool as hell.

Dustin Skudlarek, managing partner, with the Stanley Beer Hall’s custom growler.

Logan House Coffee Co. and roastery is serving up craft brew as well, in java form.

“You can drink our coffee black,” says co-owner, Brooks Gagstetter. “But its not about being pretentious. Our whole concept is just creating a great cup of coffee.”

If you’re looking for fast-casual in a family-friendly setting, Yellowbelly is solid. Fried and roasted chicken, with an emphasis on their specialty sides. Quick, healthy, and damn good too.

“It’s easy, it’s approachable,” says co-owner, Barry Davis.

The concept for a family-friendly restaurant started in Vail four years ago as a conversation amongst friends. Owners refer to themselves as food geeks and, “it’s something that I crave,” says Davis.

Utilizing Southern and Chinese spices, Yellowbelly is making, uniquely seasoned, gluten-free chicken that tastes great. We were munching on the Barn Burner fried chicken sandwich.

“It’s the perfect lunch of to chase beers with,” says Davis. We agree. It was delightful and totally unassuming.

Yellowbelly is partnering with Whole Foods, opening a store front inside the Belmar location this fall.

Comida is combining cultures making, “Mexican street food with a lot of Southern,” says owner, Rayme Rossello.

Comida had a colorful display showcasing griddled tacos full of tender belly bacon or chicken. For lighter fare, plates of shrimp ceviche on house-made chips with mint, basil and orange zest.

On Wednesday, April 19, Comida is hosting  “An evening with Lorenza Rose” in The Hangar. An all inclusive, family-style dinner with whole fishes, chicken and roasted goat from Leffler Farms in Fort Collins, Co.

“We’re using every single part of the animal, nose to tail,” says Rossello. “It’s a start to finish experience with these little goats.”

Tickets for the wine pairing dinner are available for $100 per person. Featuring Lorenza Rose, a winery focusing on their dry rose, out of Healdsburg, California.

A portion of the proceeds is going towards international organization, Slow Food. A grassroots movement starting in 1989, committed to preventing the disintegration of local food cultures and traditions.

Sweet Cow is expanding into it’s sixth location making hand-crafted, small batch ice cream with three additional trucks driving around Denver, Louisville and Boulder.

With over 130 flavors, there is a lot of cream to be had. Using milk from hormone-free cows and locally-based ingredients like Palisade peaches, they’re keeping it Colorado.

Nearby brewing buddy, Cheluna Brewing Co. is even getting their own flavor with the creamery using their beer.

Mexican/Southern restaurant, Comida, is supplying their horchata recipe for a frozen version of the cinnamon-infused, Latin beverage.

But Sweet Cow is making their sweet, chilly milk for both kids and adults alike. Always maintaining two alcoholic flavors on their boards.

Popular grown up flavors are The Big Lebowski, a white Russian. The Moo-scow Mule, made with ginger beer, vodka, mint and lime. 

Steve Bell, Director of Operations for Sweet Cow.

Miette et Chocolat is the resident sweets shop, by co-owners, Gonzo Jimenez and David Lewis. Both chocolatiers have impressive, dessert laden resumes.

At only 32-years old, Jimenez, hailing from Argentina, worked for the Hyatt hotel group in New Orleans, New York as executive pastry chef and in Santiago, Chile. Then transitioning to corporate chef for international, chocolate and cocoa producer, Barry Callebaut.

“I was the director of the chocolate academy in Chile for them,” says Jimenez. Teaching classes all over South America. ”

Gonzo Jimenez, co-owner and chocolatier, with some of their colorful macarons.

Lewis, was working in numerous Las Vegas hotels before his five-year stint as the executive pastry chef at The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver.

David Lewis, co-owner and chocolatier, with some of their brilliant confections.

“I met David here in Colorado at a sweets show,” says Jimenez. “When I was invited to do a chocolate competition, Pastry Live in Atlanta, Georgia, I called him to partner up.”

Jimenez and Lewis pride themselves in their shop’s authenticity.

“We’re not only chocolatiers but we are chocolate makers as well,” says Jimenez. “We do use Belgian chocolate for some things, but we do what’s called, “bean to bar” and make our own chocolate in-house. Making chocolate from actual beans. A complex process, but we get to make our own different chocolates and percentages.”

We were opting for the most direct assessment of their chocolate-making skills. Going for a wafer of dark chocolate with mixed nuts and fruit, which was divine.

The Stanley’s gourmet grocer is Mondo Market. Selling specialty cheeses, cured meats, pasta and other prepared foods. It’s “all about the core ingredients,” says owner, Nicolas Farrell.

Starting out at The Source Market Hall in Denver’s RiNo Art District, Mondo is continuing to offer a physical marketplace in addition to their online shop. They will also be offering a variety of classes, hosting interns from local culinary schools and consistent public tastings.

Integrating Little Noodle as their signature in-house pasta brand, customers can be witnessing the spaghetti pour from the La Parmigiana machine.

Cranking out fresh conchiglie.

“It’s just water, salt, semolina,” says co-owner of Little Noodle, Justin Lisius. “It cooks like a pretzel, snappy, with a rough texture that sucks up the sauce.”

Beautiful, real food being made before your very eyes.

Serrano ham, manchego and parmesan cheese with homemade radiatori pasta.

Maria Empanada, is baking artisanal, Argentinian pastries, tartas and empanadas. Owner and artisan, Lorena Cantarovici, feels strongly about having a presence at the Stanley.

“We need to have a place right here,” says Cantarovici .

Branching out from their first location on Broadway, Cantarovici is describing their menu items as “traditional empanadas with South American flavors.”

Beef classico, with ground beef, eggs and olives adhere to the hand pie’s heritage. But Maria Empanada is also including breakfast style options as well as more atypical combinations like caprese, with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.

Pretty, little hand pies.

Outside of just offering diverse culinary options to consumers, the Stanley will continue to be open to organizations and activities that lend themselves to their sense of community.

Beginning on Friday, March 17, A.C.E. a Denver based, comedy trio, (associated with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts) will be debuting their interactive, 360 degree production of “Travelers of the Lost Dimension“.

The Stanley marketplace is attracting talent from all areas and giving new businesses ample room to succeed and grow. While existing Denver brands are wisely incorporating themselves into the fortuitous, bazaar-style venue.

“We kept getting calls from different businesses asking for space,” says Shaker. “So there were a lot of people thinking the same way we were. Local, independent, targeting the same kind of market.  We’re really focused on the quality of operators.”