Jared Leonard, the owner of Chicago’s The Budlong Hot Chicken, is bringing his talents to Zeppelin Station, the 100,000-square-foot work space and international food hall set to open at 3501 Wazee St. in RiNo later this year. He will be opening a new restaurant, Au Feu Montreal Smoked Meats, alongside Aloha Poke Co., Fior Gelato, Vinh Xuong Bakery, and more as-yet-unannounced tenants.
Au Feu, which is pronounced “Oh-FOO” and translates to “the fire,” will offer beef and turkey smoked on site, as well as poutine, bagels (Montreal-style, of course), and a selection of ciders and beers.
Leonard promises that, whether customers order meat in a bowl or with a side of rye bread, it will come “piled high.” Each serving will likely cost between $10 and $15.
Leonard tested Denver’s waters with a pop-up version of the Budlong at RiNo Yacht Club earlier this summer. He will be previewing the Au Feu menu with another pop-up event at the restaurant inside The Source, on Sept. 16, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Budlong Hot Chicken currently has three locations in Chicago, with a fourth coming soon. Leonard also owns BBQ Supply Co., a restaurant, catering company, training center and event-production company based in the Windy City. Au Feu will be his first venture in Denver.
If all goes well with the smoked meats, Leonard says he’d love to open more restaurants in Denver. “I’ll be living in Denver while we get Au Feu off the ground,” he adds. “I’d love to open at least a Budlong if not a couple other concepts.”
As for Zeppelin Station, the Au Feu announcement comes with a few more details about what the food hall inside will look like. Each of the four vendors announced so far will occupy a roughly 350-foot stand, with their own kitchens and access to a communal kitchen, according to Justin Anderson, director of hospitality development at Zeppelin Station.
The Zeppelin Station team still wants to sign four more vendors for the remaining stalls, as well as an anchor restaurant. Anderson says at least two more vendors will likely be signed by early October
The food hall area will feature 200 seats, both indoor and outdoor, under the high ceilings of the building’s first floor.
In terms of how that will feel, Anderson says it’s going to be “more like Avanti and less like Denver Central Market.”