By Kate Jonuska | photos by phil mumford
For decades, VFW Post 1771 offered Lafayette a wholesome place to meet, celebrate and create a sense of community. And little about that welcoming feeling changed when the building became The Post Brewing Co. in 2014.
“Being in the center of a small town, in a very iconic building for that town, there’s a lot of history in this building. A lot of celebrations have happened here,” says executive chef and partner Brett Smith, who hopes the restaurant carries on the VFW Post’s community spirit. “We want people to feel comfortable and welcome at a place you can go anytime, no matter who you are.”
And people are coming—from Louisville and Boulder, certainly, but also from Erie, Broomfield and Westminster. Today, three years after its grand opening, The Post sells 1,500 to 2,000 pounds per week of its star attraction: fried chicken.
The smell of the chicken wafting through the door as you enter gives a hint as to why the restaurant sells a literal ton of chicken a week, and that’s because it’s hands-down, no-questions, old-fashioned delicious. Fried to order at $14 per half bird, the chicken’s breading is visibly peppery, crispy and crunchy, and as an unexpected bonus, gluten free. The Post makes its coating with local Lillabee products, including potato, tapioca and rice flours, and cooks the chicken in a segregated fryer.
That breading could easily carry the flavor for the dish, but it doesn’t have to. The meat is moist and flavorful in itself, the ultimate fried-chicken feat that The Post repeats for the non-fried option. Finished instead in a wood-fired oven, the rotisserie chicken ($13/half bird) boasts flavor down to the bone.
“We want to make sure the chickens are provided a natural diet and that they are not held in cages,” says Post general manager and partner Sarah Ingraham. “All of our beef, too, is free range. We try to source ingredients that are responsibly raised, sustainable and aligned with what we as a company care about.”
Those company values—The Post is part of the local Big Red F Restaurant Group—extend to partnering with local farms like Isabelle Farm and Oxford Gardens, and working with the new Lafayette branch of the Boulder County Farmers Market to create side dishes to complement the meats. “A lot of times the sides get left out,” says chef Smith. “I don’t think they get as much love, so we really wanted to make sure ours shine.”
And they do, starting with the ever-popular green-chile mac and cheese (all sides $4/small or $7/large). The spice is nice, but the creaminess sets the dish apart, a product of the unique mixture of Cheddar and Cotija cheeses. Similarly delicious, the collard greens are braised in a wine-tomato broth and studded with pieces of another of The Post’s star proteins, the fall-apart-delicious wood-fired pork shoulder ($13).
All the favorite Southern sides are accounted for: mashed potatoes, slaw, grits, and Carolina heirloom beans and rice. Less common are the creamed kale and the Beets and Sweets, roasted beets and roasted sweet potatoes topped with whipped goat cheese. The cheese melts over the root veggies like a sauce to create a sweet side that’s only a bit too savory to qualify as dessert.
“We pride ourselves on taking simple things and doing them exceptionally well, and with a chef’s twist,” Smith says. “We go for big and bold flavors, often mixing a little spicy and a little sweet. We want you to share this food around, to take a bite of a new dish and taste this boom of flavor.”
While The Post is Big Red F’s largest restaurant to date—seating 150 in the main dining room, 60 in the sunroom, 70 on the patio and another 50 in the Elkhorn Taproom in back—the atmosphere still feels personal rather than corporate, and it operates with the smooth efficiency that’s the hallmark of professional restaurateurs.
“We’re high-volume, but we’ve really tried to accommodate people,” says Ingraham. To that end, the shaded patio was expanded this year and boasts comfy Adirondack chairs, a keg garden, a fire pit, yard games, and live music from 1 to 4 p.m. every Sunday. “Elkhorn Taproom is a 21-and-over room, a little quieter and built for adults, with trivia nights and drink specials.” Because, of course, the beer is a vital part of the experience. The Post Brewing Co. is also an on-site brewery, with its brew works visible from the main dining room. In fact, running a brewery was a longtime dream for Big Red F, which uses some of The Post’s Great American Beer Festival–winning brews in its other restaurants and also offers some beers to go in cans and bottles.
“Because,” Smith says, “fried chicken and beer are just a perfect combination, right?”
The Post Brewing Co. (303-593-2066, www.postbrewing.com) is located at 105 W. Emma St., Lafayette 80026. The restaurant is open daily for dinner at 4 p.m., for lunch 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays, and for brunch at 10 a.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. Sundays. The Post has satellite locations at 1258 Hover St. in Longmont and 2200 S. Broadway in Denver’s Rosedale neighborhood.