A Campfire tells the story of wood-fired cooking with pizza, rotisserie and barbecue at Evergreen
For a restaurant to be successful, it must tell a good story. Through the artwork on the walls, the music coming out of the speakers, the way the food is served and the hospitality of the staff, it’s all part of the story. At Evergreen Campfire, Jared Leonard’s story is about bringing people together to enjoy wood-fired cooking and all the camaraderie that comes with it.
Owners Jared and Amanda Leonard are restaurant industry veterans and own several restaurants in Denver and Chicago as part of their restaurant group – SSC Hospitality. Jared lived in Vail for several years before moving to Chicago where he opened his first restaurants. The couple now have 10 restaurants – including Budlong Hot Chicken, AJ’s Pit Bar-BQ, Grabowski’s Pizzeria, and Hamburger Stan – with more on the way. “All of my restaurants tell a story,” Jared said, “Budlong is the story of Nashville hot chicken and AJ’s is the story of Texas-style barbecue,” he said.
The Campfire is Jared’s passionate project that grew out of his love for storytelling, wood-fired cooking, and bringing people together. “The name comes from sharing stories and sharing food around a campfire,” Jared said. The restaurant serves Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizzas, smoked barbecue in the pit and roast chicken on the fire. “Cooking with real fire gives food character,” Jared explained. He bought an Acunto oven – a traditional Neapolitan pizza oven – several months ago after a trip to Sayulita, Mexico, “I was walking the streets there and counted 20 pizza ovens. crosses so many cultures now.
Instead of earning VPN certification – a designation for qualified pizzerias that adhere to the strict standards of traditional Neapolitan pizza making – Jared prefers to marry the modern with the traditional. To achieve VPN certification, a pizza place must only use certain types of ingredients, specific equipment, and adhere to traditional methods of pizza making in addition to many other requirements. “People think you have to be in the family business to be good at your job, but you don’t. It’s nice to combine an ancient technique with a modern understanding, ”he said.
Instead of using Italian-ground flour, Campfire uses flour from Handle milling in New Mexico. The company created a “00” flour – a soft blend with a high protein content – just for Campfire. The flour creates a soft and chewy pizza crust while the hot heat resulting from rotating each pizza by hand while baking in the Acunto oven creates asymmetrical bubbles that make each pie look unique. As Jared says, “it’s intentionally flawed.” Please note that Campfire will also serve dessert pizzas. Think Nutella and banana or s’mores pizza to end your meal on a sweet note. Along with pizzas, juicy and tender roast chicken and a Texan-style barbecue will add flavor and spice to the menu. “Each dish will be able to share the spotlight and tell its own story,” he said.
Campfire’s decor is light and airy with folding windows that allow for al fresco dining. The look was inspired by Jared’s time in Mexico and invites you into the open plan kitchen and dining area. Outside, you can sit at picnic tables, each equipped with a miniature burner for roasting marshmallows. Jared is also expanding the outdoor space to the creek. There will be grass and a set of games for children to play on and fire pits as well as a land and sea container to support an outdoor kitchen.
The next time you want to get out of town, Campfire is a perfect getaway just a 30-minute drive from downtown. Nestled among trees and streams, you will feel compelled to tell your old stories to new friends.
The Campfire is located at 27883 Meadow Drive, Evergreen. Open every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.