Winter 2015

Alumni connections helped build fast-casual eatery Chop Shop


Christian Anderson is co-owner of the Denver fast-casual restaurant Chop Shop. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

After an intense four years at the University of Denver earning a degree in international business while playing men’s lacrosse, Christian Anderson (BSBA ’05) chose to travel instead of jumping into a job. He visited Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand before returning to Denver, where he landed a post at Beverage Distributors in Aurora. While working as a beverage consultant for five years, Anderson cultivated a passion for Denver’s dynamic and spirited food culture.

Through his job, Christian met Clint Wangsnes, a senior chef at the restaurant Zengo. Wangsnes and Anderson shared a vision for making fine dining more accessible by bringing a chef-driven menu to the fast-casual environment. They partnered with another University of Denver graduate, Derek Nelson (BA ’04), and his wife, Elizabeth, and together they went to work raising capital and transforming a former upholstery shop on Colfax Avenue into a modern eatery called Chop Shop.

Featuring items such as slow-cooked short rib and peachwood-smoked pork chop, the restaurant opened in August 2014 to a full house. Whenever possible, ingredients are locally sourced, from the Alamosa striped bass to the Palisade peaches. Even parts of the interior are crafted from locally reclaimed fence wood.

“Since we’re trying to bridge the gap between fine dining and quick service,” Anderson says, “we wanted to have a low carbon footprint and also create an elevated dining experience.”

If demand is an indicator of success, Chop Shop is well on its way. When Christian posts a nightly special at 5 p.m. on the restaurant’s Facebook page, people show up an hour later wanting to try the dish. And they’re already asking for delivery service. He and his partner are contemplating what’s next, including opening more Chop Shop locations.

“Once Clint and I can take a deep breath,” Anderson says, “we’ll figure that out.”


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