Leven, a modern sandwich shop with nostalgic influences, will take shape at 123 West 12th Avenue in the Golden Triangle, with an opening slated for this April. Partners Anthony Lygizos and Luke Hendricks cooked up the deli concept while working together at Potager.
For Lygizos, a childhood memory of Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan, served as the initial inspiration. “We want to create something that is affordable but over-delivers,” Lygizos says of the “two-hander” combinations between two slices of sourdough flatbread that make up most of Leven’s menu. The food honors both Lygizos’ and Hendricks’ childhoods, pulling from Jewish-American staples and California’s fresh, ingredient-driven food culture.
The duo shares “lofty goals,” and a desire to establish themselves professionally in Denver’s food and beverage industry, while maintaining more of a family-friendly schedule. Hendricks started his culinary career working in California kitchens before dedicating six years at Potager, working his way up from cook to head chef. Lygizos worked at The Little Nell in Aspen and helped open restaurants in the small mountain town before moving to Denver where he cut his teeth at Ace Eat Serve and later moved to the front of the house at Potager.
After nearly two years perfecting the business plan and menu and hunting for a storefront, the two settled on the corner of West 12th Avenue and Bannock, in a building built in 1899. The 2,500-square-foot address formerly housed a commercial office and art gallery. Construction begins next week as the space undergoes an overhaul, including an open kitchen, dining area to seat 99 people, and “Brianna’s bike-through” for diners on-the-go. The build-out is expected to take three months.
Menu highlights include slow-roasted Aspen Meats, such as house-smoked pastrami, fried ham, mortadella, and more, with zingy miso mustard, sweet and spicy pickles, and all the fixings. Salads will be available as well. Leven will serve Huckleberry Coffee, kegged wine and beer, and house-made sodas with shrubs. The eatery’s hours will run from 10 a.m. through 8 p.m., targeting a corporate-catering business for the art district and downtown commercial nook.