Church and Union (CU), the dynamic, chef-driven restaurant concept from Charleston, S.C.- based 5th Street Group, will open in Denver’s Lower Downtown (LoDo) neighborhood in late 2023. Located at 1433 17th Street, CU offers a causal, yet refined dining experience with jaw-dropping ambiance, thoughtful hospitality and a from-scratch New American menu that follows the lead of the concept’s other locations in Charleston; Nashville, Tenn.; and Charlotte, N.C.
Church and Union features a unique and daily changing menu of New American offerings in each of its locations, including a selection of from-scratch steaks, seafood, small plates and sides, created by chef partners Jamie Lynch and Adam Hodgson. Lynch boasts an impressive culinary background, with roles at Le Cirque, Aureole and Café Boulud, and has been recognized as Charlotte Magazine’s “Best Chef” five times. He competed on seasons 14 and 17 of “Top Chef/Top Chef All Stars,” and is known for his controversial decision to give up immunity, the only time in the show’s history. Hodgson, a Denver chef and resident from 2008-2010, is vice president of culinary operations for the group, having started with the company more than 10 years ago as line cook, then quickly moving into roles as sous and executive chef. With more than 20 years in the industry, he is also making a name for himself nationally with a season 23 appearance on “Beat Bobby Flay.” Group Beverage Director Will Farquharson formerly resided and worked in the Colorado hospitality scene from 2010-2014, and has curated a Denver-specific selection of craft cocktails, wines and beers for the concept.
The 7,500-square-foot historic space, built as St. Elmo’s Hotel in 1896, is spread over two floors, seats 150 people inside and features an outdoor patio accommodating 30. Signature design elements that harken to its Southern locations include a large white concrete bar and a hand-painted ceiling by Charlotte artist Jon Norris, which showcases all 11,450 words of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Additional art includes a 10-by-six-foot Rootism abstract piece created by Justin Rivenbark, whose work is also featured in the Nashville location, and the group’s signature $5 bill painting, created by artists Matt Hooker and Rodney Raines, featuring a to-be-named Denver icon as its centerpiece.
“We’re very excited to bring Church and Union to Denver,” says Patrick Whalen, 5th Street Group CEO and partner. “Our objective at Church and Union is for people to have a great time, every time, but not to know exactly why. It’s not just the scratch-made food, the sophisticated ambiance or the top-tier service – but the feeling when all those things come together perfectly.”
Like Hodgson and Farquharson’s connections to Denver, 5th Street Group maintains local ties with all its locations. The group was founded in Charlotte, and Whalen, Lynch and Hodgson all reside in Charleston, where the company is now based; partner Alejandro Torio is based in Nashville. In addition to its award-wining concepts, the group is known for its groundbreaking “Tip the Kitchen” program, launched in 2021 in an effort to close the wage gap between service and back-of-house staff. The program offers guests a line on their check with the option to tip back-of-house employees, and all tips are matched by the group at up to $250/day for each store – resulting in nearly $3 million in employer matched tips to-date.
The restaurant will open nightly dinner – with lunch and brunch to follow.