Open for business and already flooded with customers areand SONO! Hawaiian BBQ. Fat Jack’s now occupies the historic Mercantile Building, while SONO! fills the former Taco Bell space in the Tivoli Student Union food court.
Both vendors are Colorado-based companies, and SONO! is a brand-new restaurant developed for the Auraria Campus. SONO! offers a mix of Hawaiian foods and influences from the Pacific Islands. It features items for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including Hawaiian barbecue, sushi, rice/noodle bowls and desserts.
Fat Jack’s owners Kyle and Brooke Fabra located their newest store in the Mercantile Building, which sits at the corner of 9th and Curtis streets and has a historic designation. The red-brick building was originally a market for the Auraria neighborhood.
Taco Bell had been in the Tivoli food court for almost 20 years, while Einstein Bros. Bagels had done business at the Mercantile Building for about a dozen years, says Jeff Stamper, assistant vice president of Operations and Services for the Auraria Higher Education Center.
“A couple long-term mainstays are now getting completely renewed with a couple fresh concepts,” Stamper says. “We’re pretty excited about it and I know the students, including those were part of the selection process, are as well.”
Stamper says tri-institutional committees made up of students (the Mercantile committee also includes faculty and administrative representatives) review restaurant vendor applications on the Auraria Campus. The committees advertise for vendor concepts, collect applications and score each submittal to narrow the pool to three finalists. They then hear presentations from the finalists, and do taste tests, before making a selection.
While SONO! Hawaiian BBQ is a completely new concept, “the people on our committee who sampled their product say it’s great,” Stamper says.
Besides Fat Jack’s wide assortment of sub sandwiches, the establishment offers an espresso bar and items from Rosenberg’s Bagels and Delicatessen, Little Man Ice Cream and Cinnaholic Gourmet Cinnamon Rolls. Fat Jack’s, which has seating on three levels inside the Mercantile, also features on-campus bicycle delivery service and an app that allows easy online ordering.
Starbucks, brewpub going strong
Meanwhile, a pair of vendors launched last year in the Tivoli Student Union – Starbucks and Tivoli Brewing Co. – are also going gangbusters. The Starbucks is already the second-busiest Starbucks in Denver, Stamper says, noting that the first-place outlet is open three hours longer each day than the Tivoli store. “The Tivoli store does more product sales per half hour than any other Starbucks in Denver,” he says. “The manager is amazing, and she’s put together a super staff. It’s a great addition to the campus.”
Tivoli Brewing has established itself as a go-to spot for great brews and food. The brewpub opened a beer garden this summer just off the new Tivoli Quad Park. Also, Tivoli Brewing has started a bottling line, so its product, featuring the original historic Tivoli Brewing bottles, is branching into retail outlets across the region.