House plants were a hot buy during the COVID-19 pandemic, as folks spent more time at home and looked to beautify their spaces. Now a couple of Denver bars are tapping into the plant-baby boom and doubling as garden shops.
Here’s where you can have a drink and add a potted philodendron or monstera to your tab before leaving.
RELATED: A perfect, bewitching escape is waiting for you in a plant store on South Broadway
The Broken Cage
When Layla Friend opened The Broken Cage, the second outpost of an Orlando-based bar and restaurant, in January 2020, she had no intention of selling plants. They were merely decor that satisfied her green thumb. Enter the pandemic, and Friend needed a way to mark off tables to accommodate social distancing. So she covered them in plants, and then added some price tags.
“It turned into a COVID side hustle,” said Friend, whose affinity for foliage comes from growing up in lush Florida.
Plant sales don’t make up a large portion of The Broken Cage’s revenue — most people come for the rotating selection of craft cocktails decked out with dried fruits and fresh herbs, and its menu of shareable plates. But there are some regulars who ask Friend to keep an eye out for specific varieties they want to add to their home collections. That inspired her to start curating the plants wholesale, buying them direct from a delivery truck like a garden shop would.
“I always want to have pothos and philodendron,” Friend said, “but it’s really fun to get rattlesnake plants, and I started getting some palms and calathea and prayer plants like the marantas. I put propagations in the center of the table, and they make really nice centerpieces.”
And, perhaps, inspire customers to buy.
2420 17th St., Unit 103, Denver. thebrokencage.com/denver
Marigold (opening fall 2021)
The space formerly known as Five Points Market will reopen this fall as a bar called Marigold, where the centerpiece attraction will be the 2,500-square-foot Japanese garden outside.
Co-owners Sudy Kudva and Genevieve Shifrin plan to decorate the inside and rooftop deck with greenery that fit within that theme, most of which they expect to offer for sale, said Kudva. Additionally, they want to riff on sip-and-paint classes by offering events where patrons can build their own terrariums while enjoying a libation.
The idea for Marigold took root after Kudva worked with the National Wildlife Federation to turn his other Denver bar, Gold Point, into an established pollinator garden. Kudva and Shifrin, who have six other partners in the business, loved the idea of bringing nature back into urban areas. Part of the appeal of Japanese landscaping is that it’s not something you see often in Colorado.
“Some of the hardiest plants were these native Japanese, trees, bushes, foliage,” Shifrin said, adding they visited Domo Japanese restaurant for inspiration. “We do want it to be an experience. When you walk in, you almost feel transformed.”
Marigold, which is expected to open in October, will not serve food, but owners do plan to host live jazz music on occasion.
2721 Welton St., Denver. Expected opening October 2021.
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Updated July 1 at 9:50 a.m.The following corrected information has been added to this article: Due to incorrect information from a source, one owner’s name was spelled Sudy Kudba. It has been corrected to Sudy Kudva.