It was a cucumber lime drink and a hefty burrito that brought Douglas County employee Jim Davis to Ecclesia for lunch on June 20. He'd been to the Castle Rock food hall once before and came back for …
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It was a cucumber lime drink and a hefty burrito that brought Douglas County employee Jim Davis to Ecclesia for lunch on June 20. He'd been to the Castle Rock food hall once before and came back for the bright green beverage, he said.
His first impressions? Ecclesia is nice, clean and brings variety to the area.
“It's nice to have a little more selection instead of the same place over and over again,” Davis said.
Ecclesia, one of Castle Rock's newest eateries, brings the food hall trend to town, and also aims to preserve a building that long served as a church in the heart of downtown.
Ecclesia opened in late March at 221 Perry St. and houses five vendors — a cocktail lounge, two food stands, a market and a bookstore — with more on the way. Two additional eateries are slated to open in the coming weeks, and the venue plans to host periodic events.
Next up is an art show on June 27 for Denver artist Tony Achilles, who painted an expansive mural in the hall's cocktail lounge.
The market Farmgirl Foods, Romo's Street Tacos, European eatery Lante Brau-Casa, Sinners & Saints cocktail lounge and bookstore Sudden Fiction operate from the hall today.
The new food stands will be Moosh Moosh desserts and a not-yet-named seafood place. The facility also has an arcade and outdoor patios where people can sip on drinks or eat food from the vendors.
The idea for a food hall in Castle Rock sprouted three summers ago when the partners behind the business vacationed together in New Orleans. Those partners are Kim and Mark Pforr, Floyd and Michaela Bacon (owners of Maddie's Biergarten down the street), and Dave and Michele Schutte.
“We were discussing what Castle Rock was missing,” said Dave Schutte, explaining that they first considered opening a brewery or distillery before landing on a food hall. “It's a concept that everybody enjoys going to, but they're all in Denver.”
They settled on the name Ecclesia as a nod to the building's past use as a church. Schutte said the word is Latin for church but also “gathering place.”
The cocktail lounge menu offers 10 choices dubbed “The 10 Commandments,” a large table is seated with church pews and the mural painted by Achilles is his rendition of Dante's Inferno, complete with the town's iconic “The Rock” painted into his piece.
Schutte said he's met former congregation members of the church who've been receptive to the food hall, putting some of his personal concerns to rest.
“I was concerned that people might think we were poking fun rather than giving a nod,” he said. “We didn't want to be themey but we didn't want to run away from this having been a church.”
Vendors have called the food hall a blessing and opportunity for their businesses. Both Lante Brau-Casa and Romo's Street Tacos operated as food trucks before entering the brick-and-mortar model through Ecclesia.
Mayra Romo, who co-owns the taco shop with her husband, Jorge, and is opening Moosh Moosh, said they were surprised when the Schuttes approached them about joining the food hall but jumped at the chance. Dave's wife was a fan of the family's food truck, which began operating in The Meadows last year, he said.
“It's been an amazing experience,” Romo said of the food hall concept. “We can cross-promote, we can encourage one another and we're a family at the end of the day.”
Melissa Clement, who owns Farmgirl Foods, said she enjoys being part of a business focused on the local community. All the owners and vendors are based in Castle Rock, and she sources more than 80% of her products from Colorado. That includes local meats and some products made in Castle Rock.
While she's hoping to bring a mom and pop type of market to the downtown, Clement said she's eager for people to come experience the hall as a whole.
“It's just a really cool place to hang out,” she said. “It's fun, it's new, the bar has an amazing vibe. The food is fantastic.”
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