It all started with three brothers having a dream of owning their own restaurant when they grew up. One loved food and became a chef; another worked in sales and operations but loved beer; the third one built homes but had a knack for creating custom drinks. The recession brought them all to Denver from different parts of the country to open their dream restaurant. They searched for a location and leased the first site they saw in historic downtown Denver. They’ve been cooking up success and pouring award-winning brews ever since.
Owner Jason Forgy and his brothers, Chef Lucas Forgy and Beverage Director, Aaron Forgy, opened their restaurant in 2010 and named it Freshcraft, specializing in offering an award-winning selection of curated craft beers and beverages matched with upscale made-from-scratch comfort food. Known as a late-night destination for signature food, beer and spirits, the trio has grown their menu, staff and customers in step with the remarkable popularity of lower downtown Denver as a destination for locals and tourists.
When they found their restaurant space, Jason, Lucas and Aaron needed a loan to remodel it. After visiting multiple banks to get financing, their restaurant broker referred them to Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) where they qualified for a loan in 2010. With these funds, they were able to replace the bar, furniture, floors, lighting, HVAC as well as expose original brick walls. They also took advantage of CEF’s Business Acceleration Services (BAS) to refine their accounting system.
“CEF is one of the few organizations working to give you a hand up versus an instant ‘no’,” remarked Jason. “It was refreshing to hear.”
Leveraging the success of Freshcraft, Jason, Lucas and Aaron opened a second restaurant, Block and Larder, in 2014 in Denver’s burgeoning Tennyson Street neighborhood. The focus there is on cocktails and whiskey with a small protein-rich plate and snack menu, all locally sourced. The trio has also won several awards including Westword’s Best Beer Bottles, 5280’s Hottest Bars in Denver, Draft Magazine’s Top 100 Draft House list, and most recently, Zagat’s Top 15 Draft House list for Denver. The brothers also got involved in the Great American Beer Festival, working with fellow CEF borrower, Black Shirt Brewing Company.
Asked what advice he would give other restaurant startups, Jason commented, “Remain flexible and willing to change your plans per your customers’ needs and that of your space. Our dream was to have a good time with good beer and food. It came true with CEF’s help.”