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Chef Clint Wangsnes Opens a Second Chop Shop in Lowry Town Center

Expect new dishes, cocktails and beer, plus a larger space

In 2014, eight years after he’d been tapped as the chef of Zengo, Clint Wangsnes departed that restaurant to focus on a project of his own: Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery, a refined fast-casual spot that Wangsnes, along with partners Christian Anderson and Elizabeth and Derek Nelson, opened on a risky stretch of East Colfax mostly devoid of foot traffic. The concept, which Wangsnes describes as “modern American with global influences,” took some time to catch on, but once it did (the unassailable French onion soup quickly became a fan favorite), it became clear that Wangsnes and his team had carved out a niche in Denver’s fast-casual kingdom—a niche that has now expanded to Lowry Town Center, where there’s plenty of foot traffic and, stresses Wangsnes, “an opportunity to reach a ton of residents that are starved for good restaurants.” And the second Chop Shop {200 Quebec Street, 303.364.1102}, which was formerly occupied by Salty Rita’s, has been on Wangsnes’s radar for years. “When I first came up with the Chop Shop concept, this is the space that I really wanted,” says Wangsnes, who lives in nearby Park Hill and recognized, early on, that the mixed-use development could benefit from more restaurants that focused on families. “This is the kind of place where you can bring your kids but still have an adult experience,” he notes.

The space—nearly double the size of the flagship store—features 50 seats in the dining room and another 30 in the interior patio, a separate area shimmering in natural sunlight thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows and a pair of garage doors that peer over a large courtyard splayed with fountains; once summer arrives, diners can congregate on the 2o-seat outdoor patio. Like the original location, the restaurant is accentuated with an orange-and-lime color scheme, reclaimed barn wood, an open kitchen, and a walk-up counter where guests place their orders. The biggest difference between the flagship and this one, explains Wangsnes, is the floor plan and layout. “The Colfax shop is a bit cramped, so we sacrificed a few tables in the new location to make it feel more spacious and airy,” says Wangsnes, whose business cohort, Elizabeth, designed the quarters.

More square footage also enabled Wangsnes and his chef de cuisine, Eric Honas, who opened the East Colfax shop, to broaden the menu. The favorites—that stellar French onion soup, the French dip, veggie burger, and Chop Shop burger—all appear on the board alongside new dishes, including a bánh mì paved with chicken pâté elevated with the addition of fish sauce, slow-roasted sheets of pork cooked sous-vide for two days, pickled vegetables, cilantro, bits of pineapple, and a smear of lime aïoli. Fried rice underscored with peas, kimchi, applewood-smoked bacon, shrimp and duck confit is a new inclusion, too, as is the housemade, all-natural corn dog that’s stamped on the kids’ menu.

The drink roster is also a step-up from the first location. Here, there are four batched cocktails on tap, including a Moscow mule served in beautiful copper mugs, a blood-orange margarita, a blackberry-sage whiskey sour and a seasonal libation, currently a Tullamore D.E.W. cocktail. The multitude of taps also trumpets four wines, plus a sparkling chardonnay from Infinite Monkey Theorem, as well as a half-dozen craft beers (and, for those who insist, PBR), cider, and nitro cold brew from Coda coffee. Happy hour, which stretches from 3-6 pm daily, offers $1 off all beers and wines.

Chop Shop is open from 11 am-9 pm daily.

By Lori Midson