Restaurant concepts based on a food fad might thrive for the short term but tend to struggle to survive. About four years ago, David Dill bet on the fact that diners’ love affair with bacon was here to stay when he opened Bacon Social House in Denver’s Sunnyside neighborhood. Based on the concept’s growth, he waged wisely.
Dill chose the location because it fit with his vision of building a neighborhood hub in an area of the city that’s largely residential. When he began developing the concept, Dill felt that building the brand around bacon would appeal to a broad range of people and help create a neighborhood gathering space where people could come together over a menu built around this widely and wildly loved food.
The original menu, developed by Chef Brian Crow, has been updated the past few years based on customer feedback and changing trends.
“Since opening in 2015, we’ve seen firsthand the excitement from customers when they discover our restaurant and it’s bacon-focused foods,” Dill says. “That appeal has not diminished, and to us bacon isn’t a trend so much as an American classic that has a timeless appeal.”
In 2019, Bacon Social House opened two new locations – one in downtown Littleton, Colorado, (which opened in May) and another two blocks from US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis (which opened in August).
Bacon Social House’s “bacon-forward” menu is built around fun spins on American classics, Dill says. Brunch is served seven days a week with a mix of breakfast favorites such as a variety of pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and chicken and waffles. A selection of salads and sandwiches like a fully loaded Cobb salad and a fried chicken sandwich are offered all day and at dinner; evening-only entrees include bacon-wrapped meatloaf and steak frites.
The menu also includes lighter fare for those looking for healthier options as well as dishes that fit a variety of dietary needs including gluten-free and vegetarian choices. One of the six types of bacon available is a paleo bacon, which is cured without sugar and adheres to the paleo diet guidelines.
“The menu was designed to be crowd pleasing and to showcase the high-quality bacon that’s the centerpiece of the restaurant’s offerings,” Dill says.
“Many of the customer favorites like the chicken and waffles, and bacon and chocolate pancakes that were on the menu when the restaurant first opened remain because, like bacon itself, they have lasting appeal,” he continues. “As the restaurant expands into new markets, we are taking customer feedback and regional influences into account as we develop new items, like a walleye fish and chips that will soon be added to the dinner menu at the new Minneapolis location.”
Diners who consider themselves connoisseurs are tempted by the menu’s offering of a bacon flight, which comes with applewood (a traditional favorite with classic smoky bacon flavor), BBQ (spiced with a house-made barbecue rub), candied (coated with a sweet and sticky sugar-based glaze), habanero (spicy with a kick from habanero powder), paleo (bacon that is cured without sugar) bacon and a featured bacon (a rotating flavor created in house; recent featured flavors included French toast and chipotle ranch).
Diners can also try the Baller Bacon -- a thick-cut bacon that is baked and candied with a kick from a special blend of spices.
The Whole Hog Omelet provides meat lovers an omelet loaded with pulled pork, applewood smoked bacon, ham and cheddar, then topped with tomatillo salsa and served with sourdough toast or a Wolferman’s English muffin and customers’ choice of french fries or bacon tots.
Bacon tots? That’s right, these made-from-scratch, in-house creations are extra-large, crispy tots that get a smoky kick from the addition of bacon.
Considering the source
All of Bacon Social House’s bacon comes from Tender Belly, a Denver-based company that Dill says he chose because of its commitment to providing the highest-quality product and willingness to collaborate in creating Bacon Social House’s selection of unique flavors of bacon.
“High-quality bacon is key to the success of Bacon Social House and Tender Belly has always been strongly committed to, as they say, ‘insanely high standards’ since they were founded in 2010,” Dill says. “Not only is Tender Belly’s bacon some of the best available anywhere in the US, the fact that they are a Denver-based company made them the perfect local partner.”
Each of the group’s three restaurants orders about 1,000 lbs. of bacon every week from Tender Belly, which typically includes a variety of bacon (applewood, smoked, paleo and habanero), a special thick-cut bacon used to make Bacon Social House’s sweet and spicy Baller Bacon in house, and pork belly used for the Costa Rica Benedict.
Though Bacon Social House has just started to expand with the opening of its second and third locations, it’s already clear that bacon still resonates strongly with diners, Dill says.
“In both Littleton, Colorado, and Minneapolis, the concept has been met with excitement, and while the focus currently is on honing the menu and service in these new markets, we are looking forward to opening additional locations in both the Colorado and Minnesota markets in the future,” he says.