The Harvey House building next to Union Station reopened to the public this week for the first time since 1967, when the Harvey House restaurant chain (that used to be a mainstay of regional rail stations) closed its doors. The space reopened as the home of Imperial Western Beer Company, a restaurant and bar big enough for more than 400 people, with its own brewery attached.
Housed in a vaulted hall under a sky-high Art Deco-meets-Spanish Colonial Revival ceiling, the space has been under renovation for three years. Diners will find themselves bellying up to multiple leather-bumpered bars, face-to-face over shuffleboard tables, or seated in booths that ring the room’s perimeter.
Cedd Moses, the cocktail luminary (behind places such as the Varnish, Seven Grand and Walker Inn) and serial restaurateur who is part of the team behind the restaurant, said, “Every great train station should have a great oyster bar,” citing those at New York City’s Grand Central Station or the more recent Stoic & Genuine at Denver’s own newly restored Union Station. To that end, his group has brought in David Lentz, from the Hungry Cat Hollywood, to create a seafood-heavy menu. Beers will cover a wide spectrum, with a menu of 18 brews offering kristalweizen, a rare wheat beer filtered to serve as a crystal clear substitute for Champagne, along with a soon-to-be ready oyster stout. In addition, there’s a “lightly saline” Gose beer and a pronounced dedication to house-aged sour ales to pair with Lentz’s oysters and steamed mussels.
To the right of Imperial is the Streamliner, housed in a small appendage that Fred Harvey created for servicemen who wanted a lengthier stay over a gimlet or martini than they might find next door.
This intimate, noticeably more modern bar is overseen by 213’s Eric Alperin and Max Seaman with their crew from the Varnish.
With a menu broken up into four sections, the cocktails employ various clever shortcuts to produce drinks more quickly, with the same balance that you’d find at their famous bar within Cole’s.
For example, ice bricks infused with sweet and sour elements can be mixed with a variety of spirits and tailored with additions such as freeze-dried fruit and bitters, as needed to make cocktails both classic and creative. These include mint daiquiris and whiskey sours, joining a Tom Collins, G&T and Manhattan among the 14 set offerings.
The New York-raised Alperin, speaking between striking copper doors and a framed photo of his Milk & Honey and Little Branch mentor Sasha Petraske on the wall, has an infectious excitement for the space, from its history to its near future.
“The fact that we get to be here and have the keys to this place, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” he said.