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Off Menu with Dash Harrison of Curtis Market

Off Menu with Dash Harrison of Curtis Market


There are a few things I miss since moving from the Northeast to Colorado. The list includes family, friends, and perhaps — the thing I miss most of all, delis — specifically deli sandwiches. But then I was introduced to Curtis Park Deli.

Photo by Kristen Richard

In 2018, Dash Harrison teamed up with Michael Reif and became a founding partner of Curtis Park Deli. But Harrison took a bit of a winding road to get there. After graduating from Oklahoma State University in 2003, he moved to Colorado and started working at Nick-N-Willy’s Pizza.

“I worked at their corporate restaurant for a while,” said Harrison. “Then I moved into the franchising office. But I have always had a culinary background. My dad went to the Culinary Institute and owned a few restaurants when I was growing up.” He eventually moved to working in website design and development. But after a few years, “I wanted to get back into food,” he said, leading him to partner with Reif, whose original business partner now resides in New Zealand.

“I kind of stumbled back into food,” Harrison said with a smile. “But it was nice to come full circle from where I started my career in Colorado back in 2003.”

Today, Curtis Park Deli has three locations: two in Denver and one in Boulder. The stores all have nine core offerings, like the American and Italian subs, but there are some differences on the menu depending on the location.

“It’s a simple menu,” said Harrison. “But it still allows us to be creative.”

The two things that stay the same no matter which one you go to? All the subs are served cold — not toasted. And they strive to support the locals.

Photo by Kristen Richard

“We’ve put a huge emphasis on trying to find smaller local purveyors,” said Harrison. “If we are expecting people to support us as a small local business, it’s hypocritical for us to not do the same in return. It might make the food a bit more expensive. But that’s okay because it’s a better product overall.”

Indeed, according to Harrison, they use local produce when they can. And they forgo Pepsi and Coke for an assortment of drinks from Rocky Mountain Soda Co., Upstart Kombucha, and other local spots. Additionally, if you need a pick-me-up, they serve coffee from Denver’s Kaladi Coffee Roasters and Boxcar Coffee Roasters. And rather than Lay’s for that all important sub side, you’ll find options from Denver Chip Co. and more.

“You also won’t see us going out and buying things like large tubs of mayonnaise,” said Harrison. “We make all our sauces in-house like our garlic aioli, pesto, mustard, red wine vinegar, Thousand Island dressing, and hummus.”

Like the regional differences in the menu, there are going to be local favorites. In Boulder, for instance, the beef sandwich is particularly popular, Harrison noted.

Then there’s the Curtis, which Harrison describes as a “play on a Reuben.” On the sub, you’ll find corned beef from a local purveyor, their homemade Thousand Island dressing, Swiss cheese, and perhaps the pièce de résistance? The sauerkraut.

“Our sauerkraut is probably the best I’ve ever had,” said Harrison. “It’s from Vibrant Veggies in Denver. The owner puts a little bit of extra caraway seed in it for us to mimic the taste of rye bread. And it’s phenomenal.”

One favorite across all the stores is the American sub, made with homemade aioli, red onions, fresh tomatoes, smoked Gouda, turkey, and mixed greens. “We have people that only get that when they come in,” said Harrison.

There’s also the Veggie for the vegans and vegetarians out there. Or you can tweak other sandwiches to fit your dietary preferences.

All the subs are made on either ciabatta from City Bakery or gluten-free bread from Deby’s Gluten Free, both of which are in Denver. And that’s an intentional choice to stave off food waste. After all, “if we have 30 kinds of bread, we’ll end up tossing out 28 kinds at the end of the day,” said Harrison. Additionally, there are no plastic utensils, and the company strives to use minimal packaging.

If you’ve worked in or known someone who has worked in food service, you have probably experienced or witnessed the burnout that can take place. After all, these jobs often have long hours, are demanding, and very stressful. But along with supporting local and environmental initiatives, Curtis Park Deli aims to support their employees.

“We’re open from 10 am to 4 pm,” said Harrison. “We probably could be open for dinner if we wanted to, but it’s important to us to keep work-life balance for our employees. That’s huge for us.”


Kristen Richard
When I'm not traveling down a rabbit hole of random esoteric knowledge, you can usually find me camping, hiking, biking, reading, hanging with my dog or rocking out to metal bands.

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