On Wednesday, July 29 The Coop opened downtown with a succinct chicken-centric menu for dine-in, takeout and delivery. Transforming the ballroom-sized event space of Wynkoop Brewing Company, the new concept is nicely repurposing the interior and the adjoining patio for a comfortable, well-dispersed dining experience that does more than just supplement the beer. With a focus on local ingredients, the menu features a limited set of quality appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, mains, sides and sweets.
The Coop is the brainchild of Breckenridge-Wynkoop Director of Operations Amanda Young. Young’s long background in hospitality dates back to her teen years. Beginning with vocational school, she went on to undergrad at Johnson and Wales in Charleston. Following with a Masters in Hospitality Management at the Florida International University in Miami, Young moved to Colorado and has since had stints at local heavyweights including the Denver Chophouse and Snooze. Eight years ago she joined Breckenridge-Wynkoop as general manager, graduating to area director and most recently to her current position. Though she has enjoyed her return to leading a kitchen, she plans to hand the day to day operations over to her team in the coming weeks.
While The Coop was conceived as a suitable pivot, Young says she’s been toying with the concept for several years. “Right now we can’t do events and that’s what the space was for,” said Young. Even as the food lends itself nicely to to-go options, Young says on-site dining has been seeing dramatically higher yields. The stretched patio overlaps with the brewery’s space, as does the food service. Wynkoop’s tap list is available both on-site and to-go. Delivery is available through Chow Now.
While the food certainly is best when joined with one of the many brews, the menu is strong enough to justify the place acting as an adjoined concept rather than just a kitchen update. Young tries to source the ingredients locally as possible, with bacon coming from River Bear and the ground chicken arriving from Red Bird. Full birds are sourced from Springer Mountain Farms — an operation in Northeast Georgia known to be the first chicken farm to receive accolades from American Humane.
While the options vary, the cuisine veers toward comfort food. The Asian salad ($12) — with mixed greens, cabbage, edamame, red peppers, scallions, wontons, peanut dressing — is equal parts shredded chicken and veggies, with the many toppings providing an appropriate multipronged crunch. The Chicken and Corn Chowda’ Pizza ($11) — with shredded chicken, mozzarella, potatoes, Colorado corn, roasted red peppers, caramelized onion, fresh herbs and olive oil — is built for one, the thin-crust acting as a proper vehicle for the varied components. The Cornmeal Oyster Mushroom Po’boy ($11) — shredded lettuce, tomato and creole aioli — is one of the few options lacking in fowl and shows that Young’s skills are not limited to poultry. The House Malted Chips ($4) come with a malt dipping sauce and are one of the menu’s underdog heroes, making a surprising case for side supremacy.
As with much of the industry, The Coop is built to be dynamic. Menus are set to change both whimsically and seasonally. Though the food works well for at-home dining, the downtown patio is one of the great reasons to go, providing a chicken-fed impression of relative normalcy.
The Coop is located in the Wynkoop Brewing Company event space at 1634 18th St., Denver. It is open every day for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
All photography courtesy of Stephanie Grado.