After many years of outdoor kitchens, Allison Declercq and Colton Steiner are “stoked to finally have walls and a roof,” Steiner said.
The owners of Funky Flame, a local pop-up bakery and wood-fired pizzeria, are ready to get their hands dirtier than ever to open two storefronts. The first is set to open in October at 4994 Lowell Blvd. in the former N.O.S.H. cafe space near Regis University.
N.O.S.H, which opened in 2014 as The Noshery, closed last month, and Declercq and Steiner staked their claim after getting in touch with the old owners. The couple plans to open a bakery and cafe, serving freshly baked bread, pastries and breakfast toasts and sandwiches, plus some pop-up pizza nights in the near future.
“As a pop-up business, you don’t get these opportunities often, and it’s hard to find spaces that are ready to go, but this spot has been a restaurant for the past nearly 50 years, and we feel lucky to fill that space for the community,” Declercq said.
Declercq and Steiner were already planning to open a smaller 600-square-foot store called FunkMart at 2557 W. 46th Ave. in Sunnyside before the opportunity at N.O.S.H. Now that they have a larger kitchen in the Regis location, they plan to use it as a satellite location with more retail items.
The quaint pink building was once Sunnyside’s first grocery store, Declercq and Steiner said. Their business partner, Jack Badavas, who was a regular customer they met at one of their various pop-ups, purchased the property for $540,000 in Feb. 2023, according to property records.
“It feels good knowing that one of our customers wants to invest in us, and Jack also lives in the neighborhood, so he shares the same goals as us,” Declercq said.
Declercq and Steiner both live in the area and wanted to add something they thought the neighborhood needed. FunkMart will serve coffee, breakfast sandwiches and loaves of sourdough (baked at the other location). It will also have a retail section with local vendor items, such as Dos Caras’ salsa macha, Moon Raccoon Baking’s croissants and Not Bad Sauces.
“We just want someplace to walk to get a loaf of bread, a lemon, a bottle of hot sauce or an ice cream cone,” Steiner said.
“Another huge part of why we wanted to open that space is after being at farmers’ markets and pop-ups, we met a lot of friends in the industry who rely on these markets, so we want to be a place for some of our peers who can sell their products and test out their own pop-ups,” Declercq added.
Declercq moved to Denver from San Francisco, where she started her career in tech before moving on to baking at the height of the pandemic. She started Funky Flame out of her home as a subscription bakery, delivering bread she baked out of a mobile wood-fired oven trailer, which she’s lovingly named Val, to nearly 150 people around Denver.
It was through Funky Flame that she met Steiner. He worked at Dry Storage at the time and sold her flour. “Girls love flour,” Steiner said.
Declercq figured she’d make more use of the wood-fired oven trailer and started hosting pizza pop-ups in her backyard, and after leaving Dry Storage, Steiner quickly offered his help.
“If we can do all this hard work schlepping these outdoor kitchens, you know it’s true love,” Declercq said.
The couple got married in February last year and moved Funky Flame out of Declercq’s home. They had a brief residency at Radiator on the weekends, selling wood-fired pizza, like their popular “Red Pie,” a classic Margherita. Then a neighbor approached them to take over an empty parking lot at the corner of 44th Avenue and Zuni Street, where they sold souped-up versions of egg Mcmuffins in the morning and pizza in the afternoon. And most recently, the couple spent the summer popping up at the Highlands Square Farmers Market on Sundays.
“It was a good proof of concept for us, seeing people still come and get our food in a parking lot even when it’s raining,” Declercq said. “We fell in love with this neighborhood and community, and it reinforced that they really needed something like this.”
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