Even prior to the necessity of a widespread, health-centered outlook mandated by a global pandemic, the idea of a sprawling marketplace focused on health and well-being fit so nicely into the Denver gestalt it’s a wonder it took until 2020 to come to fruition. It doesn’t take long though, once having entered Nurture, to realize it was worth the wait.
The recently-opened location — built out of the 22,000 square foot skeleton of a former Spanish-language charter school at the corner of 29th and Federal — takes any commonplace vision of a health-junkie paradise and magnifies it into a near-dizzying amalgam of every possible service directed towards mind and body, sprinkled with a few more for good measure. The brainchild of Kelly Campbell, Peter Strauss and Nikki Dority — originally slated to open in March — is now rolling out services. Nest, the central cafe, opened May 12 for to-go orders, with many of the adjoining concepts started to roll out on May 18.
Nurture houses an extraordinary range of clients — with over 60 members providing services spanning traditional modalities including massage, acupuncture, beauty and hair care and assorted fitness options with less-expected selections including holistic mental health, teeth whitening and light therapy — allowing the place to truly embody its motto as a “home for the whole human.” The main level includes Nest, several retailers, an elegant, sparsely-decorated event space called Nine, a large, yet to be utilized dining space for the cafe and a socially distant waiting area, whose charming makeshift construction relies more on towering floral arrangements than caution tape. Upstairs, customers can enjoy everything from salt caves to botox injections with everything in between.
Items from partnering brands — including Queen City Collective Coffee, Herbalism Roots and Teakoe — line the entryway, many of them complete with Venmo barcodes to further limit contact. Markers on the floor — set to indicate a safe distance — come dotted with quotes like “may the fork be with you,” “bake yourself comfortable,” and “you are what you eat, so don’t be easy, fast or cheap.” Even with the realities of mask-clad aloofness, the place is immediately endearing.
While much of the member acquisition and spacial arrangement has been handled by Strauss and Dority, Nest is squarely Campbell’s domain. Coming from a long hospitality background — including a four-year stint with Tap and Burger Concepts — Campbell conceptualized Nest around the mantra “clean, accessible food for everybody.” The menu — a globally-inspired selection made up primarily of top-notch local produce and ethically-sourced proteins — is in good hands under culinary director Elizabeth Woodard. Currently serving about a quarter of the originally-planned menu, the list includes a convenient to-go ready selection of baked goods, salads, smoothies, broth and assorted grab and go items. Bowls are slated to join June 1, with the already mouthwatering charcoal-infused dosas hopefully following suit as quickly as humanly possible. “We refuse to compromise our ingredients. I’d rather not have it than have mediocre ingredients,” said Campbell of today’s strained supply chain.
While the food is certainly eye-catching, the items were built around functional nutrition — with nutritional panels available for anyone closely monitoring their intake. The carrot and beet salad ($14) comes with Tasty Acres spinach, pickled beets, roasted spiced carrots, labneh, harissa, mint, toasted pecans and a robust tahini-lemon dressing. The almost neon-hued smoothies exemplify Woodard’s penchant for polished arrangement rarely found amongst blended fruit. The blue pearl ($11) is arugula, avocado, banana, jicama, coconut milk, pearl powder, shilajit and blue spirulina. The berry beauty ($12) arrives with a blend of strawberries, raspberries, dark cherries, coconut cream, raw honey, camu camu, pearl powder, urva ursi and rose oil and is punctuated with a brilliant streak of collagen and goji berries.
Drinks include all the classic barista-fare with a chickory herbal coffee ($5), a maca latte ($5) and a matcha latte ($5) — made with Teakoe lemongrass and ginger tea, organic matcha and coconut sugar — all providing the pep. The nest syrup ($.50) — with vanilla bean, cocoa, lavender and anise — delivers a nice, aromatic kick to any of the beverages. Several options from Three Kings Kombucha are available, with the Nest’s House Brew ($5) — a blend of wild blueberries, butterfly pea flowers, blue lotus, shilajit, nettles, thyme and lavender — being available on tap. There is also a small list of wine and cocktails, which is set to expand as seating becomes an option.
Nurture would be a tremendous undertaking in ordinary circumstances. Fortunately, with wellness as the central tenet, Nurture seems built to adapt. Nest provides a solid culinary foundation for the ambitious project. “Self-care is going to be more important now than ever. I’m honored to be able to create that kind of space,” smiled Campbell.
All photography by Adrienne Thomas.