George Gastis sold his tech business four years ago — a year after he packed his bags and moved to Englewood from Platt Park. Contemplating what his next move would be, he knew he always had a …
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George Gastis sold his tech business four years ago — a year after he packed his bags and moved to Englewood from Platt Park. Contemplating what his next move would be, he knew he always had a green thumb and a love for food.
At first, he had planned to find a property to purchase or rent where he would grow food that would be sold to grocery stores and restaurants. In the process of planning his next steps, Gastis purchased the old Bill's Auto Service building, located at 900 E. Hampden Ave.
“The idea quickly became more than just a place to grow food. There seemed to be a great opportunity to create a place where not only can we grow food, but reconnect the neighborhood and surrounding communities,” said Gastis, referring to places like Littleton, south Denver, Greenwood Village and Cherry Hills. “Our geographic location is sort of strangely unique in the sense that we sit on the edge of some of those communities.”
After planning and talking to people from his past, Gastis realized there was an opportunity to create a hub around food at the old Bill's Auto Service building. Gastis seized the opportunity, and depending on construction, Grow + Gather will open its doors in October. The development will be a casual restaurant and a market that'll sell coffee and freshly harvested produce and foods - all grown at Grow + Gather.
“When we moved to this neighborhood, I saw the potential in this area. There wasn't a ton to do,” said Gastis. “Combined with trying to figure out what I wanted to do and recognizing the opportunity here — Englewood seemed to be in the process of reviving itself with a lot of new businesses moving in, a lot of development, certainly (Swedish Medical Center and Craig Hospital) and their role they played in the community — it seemed really interesting.”
The restaurant will be operated by chefs like Caleb Phillips, a Tennessee native who plans to bring a Southern twist to some of Grow + Gather's dishes. Phillips says the menu will be simple, but it'll center around ingredients that will come from Grow + Gather's farm. Some of its dishes will include biscuits, salads, pies, egg dishes and grits. Beer will also be available at the restaurant, brewed from the second level of the building.
“It's just the neatest idea. I get to walk 20 yards to get fresh vegetables,” said Phillips. “The community has already been super kind and receptive. I think it's going to be a lot of fun.”
When customers walk through Grow + Gather's community room, an area designated for guests to have coffee and for classes on gardening and cooking, they'll be able to see their food being grown behind a glass window. Behind that glass window will reside a hydroponic system where plants will grow on indoor towers. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants year-round in sand, gravel or liquid with added nutrients without using soil. Farms that use the hydroponic method use up to 10 times less water than traditional farms, according to the National Park Service.
Gastis says the rooftop of the building will serve as rooftop greenhouse, where he'll grow crops like tomatoes.
“It is exciting to see a new business concept like Grow + Gather here in Englewood as well as the repurposing of the property once occupied by Bill's Auto Service. It is sure to bring new life to that area,” said David Carroll, executive director of the Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce. The chamber works to promote its business members while engaging with new businesses in the city.
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