Milk Market at Dairy Block, Bonanno Concepts latest venture, offers 16 dining and drink options to enjoy from morning through night
Frank Bonanno doesn’t believe in kids’ food. “In my career, I’ve never had a children’s menu. Not ever. My wife Jacqueline and I believe in making your kid happy eating real food.” Besides, snorts Bonanno, 99 percent of the people who order chicken tenders are adults.
At his newest venture, Milk Market at Dairy Block, Bonanno offers both kids and adults a wide variety of real food to choose from. Located inside the former Windsor Dairy, Milk Market boasts 16 different dining and drink options ranging from pastry to seafood and is truly the Bonanno Concepts take on the food hall.
Each Dairy Block stall menu is small in order to ensure quality. “I’m trying to keep it very focused. Albina’s is the only one that has a bigger menu.” (Fun fact about Albina by the Sea (named for Frank’s grandmother). It sits across from Ruth’s Butchery, which pays homage to Jacqueline’s grandmother. Jacqueline says she likes to imagine that it’s a chance for these two very different ladies to finally meet.)
Most stalls offer only five to six items, such as Ruth’s Butchery, which focuses on “burgers and the sandwich of the day... burger, bacon cheeseburger, burger without cheese… and a double.” Another highlight is at S&G Salumeria, where “the six-foot cheese case will be inventoried and filled with a variety of cheeses including as much local as possible.”
Jacqueline and Frank own and operate all the stalls, rather than offering subleases to tenants. Instead, Milk Market is “controlled and thoughtful,” delivering on their vision of a space with a cohesive flow. In addition, not only does Milk Market offer the simple food that Frank Bonanno is known for, it also offers retail, ranging from upscale ingredients to “pop-up makers’ markets, where we invite vendors to come in and sell their wares.”
Frank says he hopes that diners and shoppers will be one and the same. He also dreams that it will be a hub for tourists. “Someone like Jacqueline can shop and I can grab a beer at Stranded Pilgrim.” A great deal of attention was paid to envisioning the Milk Market patron, with the Bonannos asking themselves, “Who is our customer?” While the LoDo location of Dairy Block may play to a “more business-oriented, 29-60” crowd, the market and food hall itself are designed for everyone to enjoy.
At a time when Denver is struggling to meet demand for workers in the service industry, Milk Market hired nearly 200 employees. These team members are cross-trained, allowing them to participate in the tip pool and collect a higher wage. Culture is critical at Milk Market—the Bonannos feel strongly that operating a business where people want to work is essential to success. Clearly they’re doing it right too—the average retention at a Bonanno Concepts restaurant is five-plus years, with some team members there for more than 10. Frank says that he’s “never had people work for me. They work with me.” He’s a big fan of promoting the idea that people can “come work with us, learn, grow, get an education and then go do your own thing.”
Classes are offered at Milk Market, including some taught by Bonanno himself, though he is quick to note that these classes aren’t designed to teach people “how to eat”. He wants people to “eat how they want to eat,” especially if that involves gelato. Among the flavors of gelato that are offered at Cornicyll, Bonanno himself prefers mint chocolate chip or just straight up coffee, but notes that he lets his teenage sons choose many of the gelato flavors, so salted caramel and anything blue rank high.
At the end of the day, it truly is all about family for the Bonannos. Frank may note “Jacqueline and I are blessed that I love what I do,” but whether it’s considering what to feed kids, naming restaurants after beloved grandmothers or treating staff like siblings, it seems that all who come in contact with the Bonannos are equally lucky.
The many flavors of Milk Market
Stranded Pilgrim: A local beer lover’s dream, Stranded Pilgrim offers guests an exclusive all-Colorado beer list of brews previously only available at the breweries’ tap rooms.
Albina by the Sea: A tribute to Frank’s grandmother, whose cooking inspired him as a child, Albina by the Sea will offer seafood favorites along with fresh fish to create your own seafood feast at home.
Ruth’s Butchery: A one-stop-shop for the best Colorado-raised meats, Ruth’s Butchery is a tribute to Jacqueline’s grandmother who famously made the best hamburger around.
The Green Huntsman: For lighter fare, guests will find freshly chopped and perfectly dressed salads.
S&G Salumeria: After fifteen years of perfecting cured meats, Bonanno is offering expertly house-cured meats as well as artisan cheeses.
Mano Pasteria: Mano, meaning hand in Italian, features quintessential hand-rolled pastas to enjoy at Milk Market or to take home.
Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria: Named after Frank’s two sons, Luca and Marco, Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria celebrates decades of the Bonannos crafting delicious freshly spun pizza.
MoPoke: MoPoke offers the ultimate Hawaiian expereince with fresh fish over rice and the perfect accoutreuments to transport tastebuds to the islands.
Fem: With just three ingredients, (flour, eggs, milk) Fem turns out super simple and seriously tasty crepes.
Cornicello: Cornicello transports guests to the streets of Rome with deliciously indulgent gelato.
Bao Chica Bao: Bao Chica Bao celebrates the cloud-like and perfectly steamed bao buns that have been a neigborhood favorite at Bones in Governor’s Park.
Moo Bar: Adorned with a one-of-a-kind chandelier that speaks to the space’s former life as a dairy, Moo Bar is the striking centerpiece of Milk Market that serves up crafted cocktails.
Engine Room: Open late and the perfect way to end a night out, the Engine Room offers delicious New York-style slices from the walk-up window located on Dairy Block’s activated alley.
Cellar: Cellar allows guests to purchase a bottle of wine from a carefully curated selection and bring the opened bottle to their table.
Morning Jones: Delicious coffee and flaky pastries are always on hand at Morning Joes, ideal for a morning coffee run or an afternoon pick-me-up.
Lou’s Hot and Naked: A Denver favorite has been ressurected! Fans of Lou’s can expect the same delicious juicy and spicy Nashville hot chicken that made the former Lou’s Food Bar famous.
Denver Milk Market
1800 Wazee St.
Denver, CO 80202
Elizabeth Kosar is a writer and communications strategist who currently makes her home in Denver. When not working on a project, she can be found enjoying Colorado’s sunshine with a good book.
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