Former Marco’s Pizza franchisee builds food hall in Arvada

Nick Costanzo wants to bring downtown Denver’s food scene to the suburbs.

The former local franchisee of Marco’s Pizza is building a 12,000-square-foot food hall called Freedom Street Social near the intersection of Indiana Street and West 91st Avenue in Arvada’s Candelas community.

“We want to be the food hall in the suburbs for all the 45-year-olds with two kids that still want to go to Avanti but can’t drag the whole family down there,” Costanzo said.

“I’m literally building it for me and my wife,” he added. “We’re 47, we’ve got two kids and live right here, and it’s just a pain in the butt to try to go downtown anymore. So to be able to bring these concepts out here and make it kid-friendly, where you don’t mind if a 4-year old is throwing a fit, is a dream.”

Courtesy of Studio H2G via BusinessDen

The 12,000-square-foot food hall will feature nine food stalls.

Freedom Street Social, which he plans to open in March next year, will feature nine stalls, including:

  • Osito, a paired down version of Juan Padro’s Mister Oso concept, which has a location in RiNo and a second coming to Wash Park. This smaller location will serve smoked meat tacos, frozen drinks and other snacks.
  • Chicago restaurateur Jared Leonard’s The Budlong Hot Chicken, which serves Nashville hot chicken, and Hamburger Stan, which serves burgers, shakes and fries. They both have a location within Zeppelin Station.
  • Chicago-based deep-dish pizza chain Giordano’s, which has two Denver locations and one in Loveland.
  • Florida-based Jeremiah’s Italian Ice.
  • Ohio-based Balance Pan-Asian Grille, which serves Asian tacos, build-a-bowls, bubble tea and snacks like creamy wontons, edamame and citrus brussels. This will be the first restaurant outside of Ohio and first franchise location.
  • A new coffee concept called North End Coffee & Vinyl, which will be run by Costanzo’s wife Aimee, who has a large collection of vinyl records she plans to play throughout the day.
  • Chef Tajahi Cookie will also be opening a breakfast concept, as well as a stall for The Supper Club, a chef residency program he started during the pandemic in French 75 downtown. Each month he will work with local chefs around Denver to host four to five-course dinners.

“We’re out in the middle of a food desert out here,” Costanzo said. “We’re so far northwest Arvada, and you’re going to Wadsworth, Golden and Boulder to get food.”

“Arvada wants this,” he added. “They want to start promoting it because, for them, it’s the biggest restaurant in Arvada, and the first food hall.”

Costanzo joined Marco’s, which started in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, as a franchise owner in 2008.

Over the years, he opened 14 locations, including one in Westminster that was ranked No. 2 last year for highest sales out of all the Marco’s locations, and also served in a role assisting other Colorado franchisees.

But by this June, he felt he had “outgrown the business” and sold his stores.

Courtesy of Studio H2G via BusinessDen

A rendering of Freedom Street Social.

While he was an owner, Costanzo worked with Cameron Cummins, who was Marco’s head of development and helped grow the company from 70 to a little more than 1,000 stores.

The two exited around the same time and teamed up to open Freedom Street Social, along with Jeff Kaplan, the Colorado franchise owner of Giordano’s, and Jon Morgan, co-founder of Chicago-based Interra Realty, who is spearheading the construction of the food hall.

After leaving Marco’s, Cummins started Pivotal Growth Partners, a holding company that helps small brands grow their franchise business.

Costanzo said the team plans to use Freedom Street Social as a way to test out some of the brands he’s working with for possible future expansion, such as Jeremiah’s Italian Ice.

“Our goal is to bring in a concept, test them out, see if they have legs to stand on and help them grow,” Costanzo said.

The team bought the 1.8-acre lot at 15177 Candelas Pkwy for $1.8 million last year and broke ground in January, Costanzo said. It’s currently in the core and shell phase, but he expects to have concepts in there ready to test out their operations by February.

The 12,000-square-foot building will include an 1,800-square-foot mezzanine and a 3,500-square-foot patio. Williams Construction is building the food hall, and Michigan-based Studio H2G is designing the space.

Costanzo named Freedom Street Social after the street his grandmother lived on in Toledo, Ohio, for almost 70 years. She passed away a couple of years ago at 97, but he’s paid homage to her throughout the restaurant.

There are personal details, such as inserting the same bathroom tiles and drapes that were found in her home, coasters with her handwriting on it, and including her address in the logo.

“My mom died of cancer when I was 4 years old, and my dad became a single dad, so my two grandmothers became my mom,” Costanzo said. “And within a year both of my grandfathers died, so it was just us. My dad’s mom, who is a 4’8’’ Italian woman, cooked every day, and we’d get dropped off in the morning or after school, and everything was centered around food.”

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