On Thursday, November 21 Leevers Locavore opened its doors in the space formerly held by a Save-A-Lot on the Northside, courting residents from the surrounding Highland, Sunnyside and Berkeley neighborhoods. The new grocery store is a far cry from the discount variety the Leevers brand has become known for in the 80 years it has been setting up shop. Originally established in North Dakota, the chain arrived in Colorado in 1983, since developing a line of stores that have been highly functional and often lacking in pizzazz. Locavore is stylish — an impressive concept that harnesses the resources of the established chain, developing something tailored for the health-conscious and locally-minded residents of the neighborhoods.
A bar serving wine, beer, coffee and other soft-drinks greets guests as they enter the establishment. The shopping carts — designed by the Boulder-based Versacart — feature a drink-holder positioned in the front-right corner of the cart, encouraging guests to grab a beverage and let their hair down while perusing the aisles. While the store is not entirely locally-sourced, vice president Chris Franklin ensures that products are as much possible. “Whatever we can, whatever makes sense — everyone wants bananas,” said Franklin. A deli case featuring grab-and-go items from Etai’s and Olive and Finch, a range of Colorado CBD products and a variety of fruits and vegetables from across the state line the shelves. “We have a lot of items that are too big for the farmer’s market and too small for the chain,” said Franklin. The balance bodes well. Items range from more generic versions to more-expensive local varieties. Leevers hopes to be able to provide the kind of shopping experience that appeals to all residents and budgets.
What makes Locavore so distinct is the inclusion of established concepts doing hot and cold items available to taken home or eaten on-site in the 60-seat mezzanine upstairs. Basil Doc’s does the pizza, One Two Three Sushi has got the fish on lock and most importantly beloved Denver chef and restauranter Justin Brunson has teamed up to bring River Bear to handle the entirety of the butcher section as well as serving up charcuterie and deli sandwiches with Culture.
Brunson’s meat counter will be producing bacon, deli meats and sausages on-site. A variety of goods will also arrive from the River Bear production facility. The guru of all-things-animal will also be curating the entire section, bringing on a range of grades — prime, select, wagyu and dry-aged — a sausage section highlighting River Bear products and other local favorites including Polidori, a frozen section and seasonal selections including Thanksgiving turkeys. The shelves stock Smart Chicken — a free-range, vegetarian and air-chilled brand — and heritage breeds are used whenever possible. A sign reading “our meat is made of meat” lines the wall, reminding customers of the simple yet surprisingly rare philosophy that underpins all the man’s ventures. “It’s good to be truthful,” smiled Brunson.
While the spot has been a long time coming, the culmination is clearly worth the wait. The one-stop-shop is elegant and inviting, with a separate liquor store labeled Bottle Shop occupying the back corner. A collaborative floral section from Tiger Lily Goods and Buckley House of Flowers welcomes guests at the entrance, with pop-ups being planned to highlight the owner’s talent outside the daily curation. To further gratify ethically-minded shoppers, Leevers is an employee-owned company, giving workers a greater stake in producing excellent results. The neighborhood has been eagerly looking forward to the debut. “We appreciate everyone’s patience,” laughed Franklin.
Leevers Locavore is located at 2630 West 38th Ave., Denver. It will be open every day from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
All photography by Alden Bonecutter.