Honor Society restaurant packs a punch with powerful ownership team

June 17, 2015

Justin Brunson, the butcher baron and visionary behind Masterpiece Deli and Old Major, is one of the partners behind Honor Society Handcrafted Eatery, a new fast fine dining and lifestyle brand, opening this summer at 1900 16th St.


The 3,300-square-foot restaurant will feature handcrafted menu items, fresh juices, local craft beers, wines and specialty cocktails. It will be open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner with dining room and bar seating. Honor Society also will provide catering and delivery service, and deploy a full suite of digital assets for mobile ordering, menu downloads and nutritional information.


“Honor Society is based on the idea that great food has the power to unite people and provide a path to a healthier lifestyle,” said Jonas Tempel, one of Honor Society’s founding partners. “It’s our humble belief that a productive life starts with your food and food choices. Our vision was to combine the best of fast casual conveniences with the excellence and comfort of fine dining.”


Four partners with diverse professional backgrounds – Tempel, Brunson, Rob Alvarado and Ian Smith – created the Honor Society concept out of their shared desire to create a restaurant that serves high-quality, healthful food in a comfortable inviting environment.


They’ve brought in local restaurant entrepreneur Ben Kaplan, of Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder and The Source in Denver, and Frank Schultz, CEO of Tavern Hospitality Group, as founding investors and advisers; as well as Glenn Pollak, manager at Oak at Fourteenth. Pollak created several signature healthy craft cocktails exclusively for the restaurant.


Top Denver chef Brunson has focused Honor Society’s menu on heritage-raised meats, sustainable seafood and produced sourced from local farms.

“We’re using premium, consciously sourced, nutrient-dense ingredients, and preparing them in a simple way to bring out their natural, delicious flavors,” said Brunson, who has received numerous culinary accolades, including Bon Appetit’s Top 50 New Restaurants (2013), Thrillist’s Best New Restaurants in America (2013), 5280 magazine’s Best New Restaurant (2014) and Westword’s Readers Choice Best Chef (2014).


Honor Society’s patrons can choose between plated meals that include base proteins and side dishes. Some of the protein options from Brunson’s menu include Grilled Aspen Ridge Flank Steak and Sustainable Scottish Salmon. The side dishes will rotate seasonally and will include organic fire-roasted rainbow carrots, sautéed spinach and kale with garlic and chili flakes and gluten-free mac and cheese. The restaurant will also offer sandwiches, salads, flatbreads and a variety of freshly made lemonades and teas. Menu items are priced in the eight dollar to $14 range.


The restaurant’s interior aesthetic – designed by Rowland+Broughton Architecture and Urban Design – will combine natural reclaimed surfaces with clean, contemporary sight lines, a look comparable to upscale fine dining.


In addition, Honor Society – which will be one of the few non-chain restaurants to be LEED certified – will use recycled and repurposed packaging materials in the restaurant, will seek out environmentally conscious vendors and suppliers, and will use consciously sourced products.


Honor Society will take its commitment to the community a step further by supporting organizations in the Denver area focusing on healthful eating, nutrition, sustainable food and farming practices and hospitality. The team has created the “Honor Academy,” which will invest in education, training and personal development of its employees. 

Alvarado is CEO and managing partner of Palo Alto Inc./Alvarado Concepts LLC, which own and operate 144 YUM Brands franchises in Colorado, California and New Mexico.


“What excites me most about this project is the brand’s higher purpose of improving lives,” Alvarado said. “For our guests, we have the opportunity to positively affect eating habits by offering high-quality, healthful and craveable food and beverages at a great value. However, our reach will extend well beyond the four walls of the restaurant as we are committed to investing in improving the lives of our co-workers and communities.”


Tempel founded ad agency Factory Design Labs in Denver, a full-service international ad agency. Tempel also co-founded Beatport in 2004, an online music store specializing in electronic music and culture.


Rounding out the team of founding partners is Smith, who has nearly 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry in front of the house, back of house and restaurant formation roles. He is president of Prosper Food & Beverage Consulting.


“As a team, our mantra is honor your body, honor your spirit and honor your community,” Smith said. “We look forward to launching Honor Society in Denver.”

Stay tuned for updates as the opening date approaches.


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