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A Former LA Chef Is Opening His First Denver Deli on East Colfax

Vince Howard hopes to debut Tessa Delicatessen this spring

A pretzel breakfast sandwich will be on the menu at Tessa Delicatessen
Farley Elliott/Eater

Laid-back brunching, all day long is the way Vince Howard describes the vibe coming to Park Hill and Montclair this spring at Tessa Delicatessen.

A former fine dining chef, Howard last year moved to Denver with his family from Los Angeles. There, he spent some time cooking in and operating a sandwich joint by the beach in Playa Del Rey, just a stone’s throw from LAX airport. Here, he’s combining “chef-y techniques” with “speed-demon” sandwich making and bringing a piece of California fresh to Denver’s East Colfax.

“We’ll just give a brunch effect to every service,” Howard said. “We’ll offer that brunch laid-back laziness, and if people really want to sit down, we’ll have the space for it.”

The space is a 2,500-square-foot former antique furniture store at Colfax and Ivy Street (5724 East Colfax Avenue). Howard and his wife and business partner Jessica are outfitting it to include a big, industrial kitchen and a smaller dining room with seating across benches and community tables for around 60 patrons.

On the all-day menu will be pretzel roll breakfast sandwiches, Tapatío-topped grain bowls, avocado toasts (of course), fresh corn and cotija salads, meats and cheeses, and more “nosh stuff.” The stars of the show will be the sandwiches, served hot and cold, probably on City Bakery ciabatta and pretzel rolls, with some River Bear meats thrown in, plus all the fixings.

“I just feel like life’s a little better with a sandwich,” Howard says. “It’s actually what I’ve fallen in love with.”

Back at home in Park Hill, he and Jessica have three daughters, and although Tessa refers to pancetta tesa (unsmoked bacon), Howard also likes to tell a story he’s heard about the popular name — apparently it signifies a fourth-born girl in a family. “This will be my most expensive daughter for sure,” he joked of going all-in on the new restaurant.