A number of civic-minded folks in Denver have started restaurants, breweries, ice cream parlors and coffee shops with a mission to give back to the community. At these special spots all over town, you can support meaningful causes while you dine.
Every scoop, cup, dish or drink you buy at these eateries makes a positive impact. Kind of like TOMS Shoes, but way tastier.
Little Man Ice Cream
With its landmark setting inside a 28-foot-tall milk can and an always-eager crowd out front, no matter the weather, Little Man Ice Cream is hard not to notice. Less well known is their Scoop for Scoop program. Every scoop of ice cream you purchase here is matched with a donated scoop of dry goods to a community in need around the world. (As if you needed another excuse to eat more ice cream!)
Farm House at Breckenridge Brewery
Head to the Farm House at Breckenridge Brewery, a modern-rustic restaurant at the brewery’s Littleton campus, and order up a ZIPA IPA (pronounced “zippah”). Every time you do, a portion of your purchase goes toward training service dogs under a partnership with Freedom Service Dogs.
Famous for its delicious Mexican food, Illegal Pete's is also on a mission to help starving artists. At any of its various locations in Colorado and Arizona, touring musicians can eat for free. This sometimes leads to impromptu performances and allows patrons to meet the artists. Illegal Pete's has opened one of its newest locations in Denver's Sunnyside neighborhood.
This unique coffee shop serves up some of the best brews in town with a twist: it's a Montessori school program where adolescent baristas get real-world experience on everything from accounting to marketing. Pinwheel Coffee also serves tea and tasty food.
SAME Café (which stand for So All May Eat), is a nonprofit restaurant, which serves up locally sourced fare on a donation-only basis to anyone, regardless of ability to pay. Diners can volunteer for 30 minutes or make a donation that they feel is fair.
Chook Charcoal Chicken
In a world where restaurants often succeed on a razor-thin margin, it’s no small feat that Chook Charcoal Chicken donates 1 percent of all sales directly back into the Denver community — and you’ll get to choose from the restaurant’s three charity partners each month. With a sweet South Pearl location and delicious fare, this is a win-win you’ll love.
Staffed with Soul
When you frequent these establishments, you’re also supporting employment opportunities for disabled, homeless or disadvantaged folks.
Comal Heritage Food Incubator
Fresh, Latin-American lunches meet good vibes at Comal Heritage Food Incubator. The restaurant empowers women of Denver’s Globeville neighborhood — many originating from Mexico, El Salvador, Syria, Iraq and Ethiopia — to share their traditions while earning culinary arts and business training.
Brewability Lab was founded by a special needs teacher who realized there was a lack of employment options for adults with disabilities. This friendly joint offers a chance for you to support the staff as they develop their talents under a unique training program.
Young adults disconnected from school and/or work are invited into a year-long apprenticeship at Prodigy, which provides unique opportunities for marginalized northeast Denver residents. In a converted garage with murals on its side, the atmosphere is as original as its staffing program.
Purple Door Coffee
Teen homelessness is especially heartbreaking, and the founders of Purple Door Coffee felt compelled to do something about it. This espresso bar at the edge of Denver’s Five Points neighborhood employs teens and young adults who have been homeless and gives them opportunities to regain their footing.
Photo courtesy of @thefallingcloset