“In recent years Denver has become a paradise for sourcing artisanal and local products.  We utilize many of the same sources within the market as we use at The Village Cork.  These sources provide the freshest ingredients possible.”


After owning The Village Cork for 16  years and going through the painstaking remodeling process there, what made you both decide to open the SoDo Village market?

The Village Cork has been a “labor of love” for over 15 years.  Lisa started the restaurant in 2001 serving small plates and one of the best wine selections in Denver.  Customers could sit and enjoy a selection of artisan cheeses, meats and desserts in a relaxing environment that reminded them of “days gone by”.  The Village Cork has been awarded “The Best Place For A First Date,” “Best Wine Bar” and “Best New Restaurant” based on the cozy atmosphere, service and quality.  Lisa and I know of The Village Corks romantic draw as this is where we met in late 2001.

Over the years it became clear that customers wanted a full menu and in 2009 we expanded our menu to include full entrées made from local, organic and seasonal ingredients.  Lisa’s love for fresh, organic, local and seasonal ingredients has always been a driving force in creating a menu that is truly unique.  In the early days, all of the cooking was done using butane burners and a convection oven.  In 2014, we completed a remodeling of the restaurant to add a full kitchen and expand our alcohol options to include a full bar.  While  this was a major change, it did not change the focus we had on providing one of Denver’s best ever changing wine lists and entrées made from the highest quality ingredients.  Today our chef, Caleb Phillips creates some of the most unique southern inspired entrées from our kitchen.

At the same time as the restaurant remodel, we also remodeled a house in Rosedale near Porter Hospital and relocated from the Platte Park neighborhood in the Fall.  Although this move was only a few miles we missed the friendly walkable business district that we had on South Pearl.  While we could drive to King Soopers, Safeway and Whole Foods, we wanted to create the type of shopping experience Europeans have known for centuries.  In February of 2017 we noticed that a space was for rent on the intersection of Wesley and Downing and we immediately contacted the landlord as the space was perfect for our concept.

Our goal is not to compete with the “big boys” but to provide our customers a local source for organic, local, sustainable and fresh ingredients.  It is our intention to provide only the best of what is needed for creating a meal.  We want to see our customers every day!!

SoDo Village focuses on conscious shopping. Can you explain that to us?

Lisa coined the term “conscious shopping” to describe the experience she wanted all customers to have at the SoDo Village Market.  Her intention was to take the guess work out of product selection in terms of quality, environmental impact or sustainability.  By researching each product we carry we can verify the source of the ingredients, production process, packaging, and sustainability.  One example of where this is easily apparent is the packaging used by most food manufacturers.  Plastic is the most common packaging material due to its durability, insulation, and cost.  Unfortunately, this material does not break down quickly and remains in our environment for decades potentially harming mammals and sea creatures.  SVM is dedicated to sourcing products in only bulk or glass that can be recycled easily. Customers can feel good that everything they purchase from the SVM has been selected to meet our strict standards.

Denver has evolved into a community that thrives on supporting local. Can you tell us about the farms and/or artisans that make SoDo Village what it is?

SoDo Village is dedicated to sourcing our products from local providers whenever possible.  In recent years Denver has become a paradise for sourcing artisanal and local products.  We utilize many of the same sources within the market as we use at The Village Cork.  These sources provide the freshest ingredients possible.  For example, City Farms from Montrose, CO is our direct source for eggs, beef, greens. City Farms has proven to be a reliable source for these products and lists on their website some of the reasons to choose local sources including:

1.  Local food tastes better. By buying local, you are receiving the freshest possible produce, picked just hours before delivery to your local store. Produce that travels long distances is days older. Sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality and flavor.

2. Local food is more nutritious. Once harvested, produce quickly loses nutrients. Since local produce is sold right after it’s picked, it retains more nutrients.

3. Local food preserves genetic diversity.  Large commercial farms grow a relatively small number of hybrid fruits and vegetables because they can tolerate the rigors of harvesting, packing, shipping and storage. This leaves little genetic diversity in the food supply. Family farms, on the other hand, grow a huge number of varieties to extend their growing season, provide eye-catching colors and great flavor. Many varieties are “heirlooms” passed down through the generations because of their excellent flavor. Older varieties contain the genetic structure of hundreds or thousands of years of human selection and may provide the diversity needed to thrive in a changing climate.

4. Local food promotes energy conservation. 

The average distance our food travels is 1500 miles, mostly by air and truck, increasing our dependence on petroleum. By buying locally, you conserve the energy that’s used for transport.

5. Local food uses less packaging. Buying produce from a farmers market or from a farm itself is a no-frills process that involves less packaging.

6. Local food supports local farmers. The American family farmer is a vanishing breed – fewer than 1,000,000 people (less than 1%) of Americans claim farming as a primary occupation. It’s no wonder: it’s hard to make a living when you get less than 10 cents of every retail food dollar. By buying locally, the middleman disappears and the farmer gets full retail price, in turn helping farmers continue to farm.

7. Local food builds community. By getting to know the farmers who grow your food, you build understanding, trust and a connection to your neighbors & your environment. The weather, the seasons and the science of growing food offer great lessons in nature and agriculture. Visiting local farms with your friends and your family brings that education and appreciation to the next generation.

8. Local food preserves open space. Do you enjoy visiting the countryside where you see lush fields of crops, meadows of wildflowers, picturesque barns and rolling pastures? Well, this should also serve as a reminder that our treasured agricultural landscape survives only when farms are financially viable. By spending your money on locally grown food, you’re increasing the value of the land to the farmer and making development less likely.

9. Local food keeps taxes in check.  For every $1 in revenue raised by residential development, governments spend $1.17 on services, which increases taxes. For every $1 in revenue raised by a farm, a forest or open space, governments spend $0.34 cents on services. You do the math.

10. Local food supports the environment and benefits wildlife.  Family farmers tend to be good stewards of the land – they respect and value fertile soil and clean water. And their farms provide the fields, meadows, forests, ponds and buildings that are the habitat for many beloved and important species of wildlife. In addition, buying local also reduces the use of fossil fuels and helps to protect the environment from harmful exhaust fumes.

11. Local food is about the future. Supporting local farms today helps keep those farms in your community, ensuring that your children and grandchildren have access to nourishing, flavorful and abundant food. When you choose to buy locally, and make your choices known, you raise the consciousness of your family, friends and neighbors.

How do you see SoDo Village evolving while setting roots in the beloved Harvard Gulch neighborhood?

We are continually evolving our offering to better meet the needs of our customers.  We have recently added fresh bread and pasta to our daily offering along with keg Kombucha and Iced Coffee.  We always take suggestions from our customers on what they would like to see us carry.  Our objective is to carry the products that customers need while maintaining a focus on quality.  We are also looking into some exciting changes in the future such as green juices, prepared salads, and sandwiches.

SoDo Village Market wants to be a positive force within the neighborhood to improve the shopping experience for everyone.

Owning The Village Cork as well as the new SoDo Village Market must pose many opportunities to work directly with the community. Which projects are you working on now? Which ones have been your favorites?

We have always maintained an objective to give back to the community.  The Village Cork has had a long term relationship with MaxFund to provide dog and cat food and other necessary items for the shelter in return for a discount on Monday nights.  We will maintain this commitment and plans to work with the South Downing Business district to create new and exciting events such as a local farmers market, holiday festival or music events.

The Village Cork certainly has it’s fair share of “regulars.” How did you earn such a dedicated fan-base?

The Village Cork sincerely loves our regulars and many have become true friends. There is no magic formula for creating regular customers.  It comes with hard work and dedication to providing a consistent product.  We have always strived to provide our customers with an experience they cannot find anywhere else in Denver.  Treating each customer with respect and making them feel like family is a good place to start.  We will continue to value our regulars and hope to create new ones in the years to come.

What is your favorite thing on the menu at The Village Cork?

It is difficult to identify a favorite from our menu as it is based on the mood that you are in at the moment.  Kind of like listening to music and trying to pick your “favorite” artist.  If we had to pick one favorite from the seasonal menu that we have now at The Village Cork it would be the BBQ Mushrooms made with Hazel Dell mixed mushrooms over smoked creamed corn and summer squash with a southern vinaigrette..

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

Anything from Maria Helm Sinskey or Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Childs

What advice can you give to the budding entrepreneur? 

While there are many people who have “advice” when you are starting a business we do not normally offer our input.  Therefore, our advice would be to stay true to your concept and do not be swayed by opinions or critics.  There are many people in the world who do not have the courage to follow their dreams.  They’re normally the people that will try and critique your idea and offer reasons why it may not work.  Stay true to yourself and prove them wrong.