As 2020 comes to an end, it’s time to look back at the resilience and creativeness of the ever-evolving Denver food scene. With so many unfortunate layoffs came creative new ventures from dumpling pop-ups and donut delivery to samosa shops and small-batch ice creameries. Though 2020 has provided an obscene amount of hurdles, these driven and passionate individuals offered some of Denver’s best side hustles.
Caitlin Howington – Pint’s Peak
The Lowdown: Veteran Caitlin Howington’s lay-off led to one of Denver’s underground small-batch ice cream company — Pint’s Peak. This one-woman show offers ever-changing ice cream flavors from both seasonal options like gingerbread house and peppermint mocha chip to gourmet flavors like lemon meringue pie and Hibiscus margarita sorbet. Pint’s Peak runs like a “get it while it lasts” shop with new flavors dropping monthly and announced on social media. Howington’s side-hustle went from creative outlet in a time of uncertainty to a full-time gig with retail pick-ups at Ruby’s Market and exciting pop-ups.
Sara Timmer and Ryan Van Splinter – Oh Golly Dumplings
The Lowdown: This ongoing dumpling pop-up concept was brought to life by husband and wife duo, Sara Timmer and Ryan Van Splinter as a product of added free time from COVID-19 related closures. Previous Oh Golly Dumpling pop-up partnerships have included Dio Mio, Run For The Roses, Brass Tacks and continue to offer scintillating dumpling flavors at various spots around Denver. For more information about new pop-up locations or dumpling eye candy, check them out on Instagram.
Gabrielle Henning and Michael Milton – Pandemic Donuts
The Lowdown: The most aptly named side hustle that popped up this year was Pandemic Donuts. Both Gabrielle Henning and Michael Milton, creators behind Pandemic Donuts lost their job due to COVID-19 related closures. They took their passion for culinary arts and the communal effect that doughnuts have on society to create a long-lasting side hustle. Similar to most pandemic related businesses popping up — pick-up, delivery and online ordering are the best ways to get a box of doughnuts. With evolving flavors like maple and gingersnap crumb to cranberry sprinkle, the menu is anything but ordinary. While the beginning of this year started out with a small delivery zone and at-home baking — the end of 2020 holds a bakery in the works and a partnership with Queen City Collective Coffee.
Virgil Dickerson – KREAM Kimchi
The Lowdown: KREAM Kimchi‘s launch came as a fast-growing side-hustle for industry veteran Virgil Dickerson who developed this fermented cabbage at the beginning of the pandemic as a way to spread love. His pandemic related furlough has turned this side hustle into a promising business. While the kimchi brand offers two varieties — traditional and vegan — each jar is labeled with a “bottled while listening to” section with featured artists from Otis Redding to Mac Miller. More information about pick-up locations and purchasing options can be found here.
Ashley – Four Letter Cookies
The Lowdown: Four Letter Cookies is a local cookie delivery business with spunk, slight profanity and enormous handmade cookies. This small business offers new flavors each Sunday with boxes of four ($18), eight ($34) and 12 ($45). Some of the menu’s flavors include a classic chocolate chip, Funfetti, Fruity Pebble marshmallow, snickerdoodle and various other combinations that change weekly. More information about flavors and delivery can be found here.
Rasami Storm – Linji Market
The Lowdown: Another gem to come out of 2020 includes Linji Market — a Thai street food concept from owner Rasami Storm. With a background in food styling and graphic design, she’s no stranger to the visual appeal when it comes to food but it’s the deep understanding of what makes her food authentic that pushes this side hustle to stardom. More information about her new location and hours can be found here.
David Right – Right Cream
The Lowdown: Another sweet and frozen side hustle to it 2020 is Right Cream, a small-batch ice cream delivery service brought to Denver by owner David Right. These uniquely flavored pints of ice cream come with chunks of cookie crumble, jam swirls, chocolate ganache and marshmallow fluff. With ever-changing flavors announced weekly, orders can be placed through social media with a small delivery radius or for pick-up at various points throughout Denver. More information can be found here.
Dave Hadley – Samosa Shop
The Lowdown: Samosa Shop is a nomadic venture for owner Dave Hadley serving fresh and frozen samosas at various pop-ups around Denver. The decision to start a new project in the middle of a pandemic is largely backed by Hadley’s desire to bring recognition to Indian food and this well-loved snack. More information about upcoming pop-ups and featured dishes can be found here.
Aura Langdon – Aura’s Bakery
The Lowdown: Nanny by day and baker by night, Aura Langdon introduced Denver to traditional Venezuelan tequeños — fried dough stuffed with white cheese — through her at-home bakery, Aura’s Bakery. This new business venture is an American Dream pursuit for Langdon who is excited to share her culture with Denver. Not only does the bakery offer cheese-filled tequeños but the gourmet fillings also include apple pie, Nutella, white cheese and guava, goat cheese and pesto, ricotta, bacon and leek. Each pack of tequeños is sold frozen and prepackaged with the option to either fry or bake. While pick-up is the sole way to get your hands on these snacks, Langdon has plans for future retail and wholesale. More information about pricing and pick-up can be found here.
Mary Allison Wright, McLain Hedges and Sara Bennett – Door Prize
The Lowdown: Originally launching back in July, Door Prize was a series of pop-ups created by industry vets Mary Allison Wright, McLain Hedges and Sara Bennett serving lunch-counter classics, canned cocktails and natural wines in a pay-what-you-can model. With proceeds benefitting various social justice organizations like the Black Women’s Blueprint, the team has continued to launch new pop-ups in and around Denver throughout 2020. More information about Door Prize can be found here.
Chelsea Berman – Phresh Baked Goods
The Lowdown: April 2020 brought a new opportunity for Phresh Baked Goods owner Chelsea Berman who was furloughed as a result of the pandemic. Having a career as a pastry chef, this side-step was a natural move for Berman. She created this micro-bakery with the vision of offering fun and inviting desserts. Some of the sweet treats for delivery include monster cookies, cakesicles, specialty cakes, decorated cookies, cupcakes and bread. More information about pricing and delivery can be found here.
Corrie Sharp and Jennifer Tom – Bubby Goober’s
The Lowdown: Couple Jennifer Tom and Corrie Sharp originally launched their delicious hand pie company back in 2015 in Arizona. After moving to Denver, the pair ultimately shifted to other ventures — with Sharp staying in the food industry and Tom becoming the fashion editor at 303 Magazine. After Sharp experienced a pandemic related layoff, the pair restarted their side hustle to fill the gap. They launched to immediate acclaim, securing a spot at the South Pearl Street Farmers’ Market and partnerships with iconic Denver businesses like Stem Ciders. Flavors include boozy options like a pear bourbon with chai spiced glaze or a seasonally appropriate winter fruit. Gluten-free versions are also available. For more info, go here.