On a wintry afternoon, after being mesmerized by the formation of a stunning flower arrangement at Beet & Yarrow, I sat under one of the Source’s concrete-hugged sunny skylights. Beyond the wooden elephant next to me was Station 16, featuring Mark Sink’s Smooth as Silk exhibition of famous Andy Warhol quotes, and in front of me another legend: Judith Boyd, digitally known as @StyleCrone.
Judith was dressed to the nines, per usual. Her silvery white hair was neatly tucked underneath a leopard-skin pillbox hat; her favorite print also echoed in her earrings. We chatted about yoga as she put out her deerskin gloves for me to touch—for which smooth is an understatement. Judith swears by yoga for mind, body and even for skin care; she has been practicing avidly since her daughter Camille introduced her to hot yoga in 2007.
In one of Judith’s older blog posts, I read about her fondness of one of my favorite poses, Virabhadrasana II—colloquially known as Warrior II—where your legs are in a wide stance, feet in line with one another and your arms are outstretched over a strong core, one in front and one behind you.
“It just fills me with some kind of strength,” Judith remarked.
As with most yoga poses, Vira II is a beautiful metaphor: your back fingertips reach into the past, your torso is strongly rooted in the present, and your front fingertips reach into the future, toward which your gaze softly looks. The Vira II metaphor is relevant to Judith, The Source and one of its newest spots, Safta: all three fixed in the present, which they are helping to define because they simultaneously honor the past and reach into the future.
Formerly home to a 19th-century iron foundry, The Source Market Hall is the first of its kind in Denver, and The Source Hotel boasts as RiNo’s first independent hospitality offering. Architecturally, it is a beautiful repurposing achievement: its blunt lines and use of concretes harken back to its foundry roots, and ample windows and skylights provide for an abundance of natural sunlight. The Source was born in 2013 back when it was Denver’s sole food hall and one of the first establishments in the now-resurrected Brighton Boulevard.
Alon Shaya explained that he planted Safta’s roots in the Source because it is an innovative concept designed for people “who are looking for comfortable surprises and who want to explore something different from where they’ve been before.” Alon was first attracted to Zeppelin Management’s innovative approach to their projects, which he says forefronts ethical values that align with those of his own Pomegranate Hospitality (e.g., equality, empowerment, creativity) to create anything but the predictable. As for the space, he sees endless potential, because there is so much room for growth and because it will never go out of style, as it does not adhere to trends: “The Source will always be unique no matter how much time goes by.”
The Source was ideal for Safta—Saba’s (New Orleans) sister restaurant—whose menu reflects Israel’s diverse demographic. Safta (Hebrew for “grandmother”) is a living homage to Alon’s grandmother, Matilda Gerassi, who transferred her passion for food and cooking to a young Alon. Matilda is Bulgarian and emigrated to the fledgling nation-state in 1948, so menu items are inspired by her culinary merging of Eastern European and Israeli cuisines. (You can read more about Matilda in Alon’s cookbook, Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel.) Safta’s menu is inspired by other grandmothers as well, such as Emily Shaya’s Nana, whose drink of choice, the Nana Martini, is one of their unique cocktails.
The experience at Safta is one drawn from nostalgia derived from the flavor-forward food, and design details like the pink hues, houseplants and retro glasses. I certainly felt pangs of nostalgia as I gazed at the colorful array in front of me: beets and pickles salatim, Hummus Tahini and some of the best pita I have encountered in the States all served on a silver platter like those my grandmother uses.
“Look at this, it’s just so beautiful,” Judith, now donning bold pieces in black and cream, exclaimed.
She proceeded to explain to me how the food is only one aspect of the experience of dining out, which she analogizes with attending theater: in addition to the food, the décor, the folks who work there and the other patrons all serve to create the experience, “a date with the restaurant.”
Judith resonates with Vivian Westwood’s sense of style, her attention to structured silhouettes, her feminism, her focus on sustainability and her steadfast belief in self-expression; as Westwood once said, “I’m not terribly interested in beauty. What touches me is someone who understands herself.” Fashion and blogging are Judith’s artistic expressions, both of which she developed during her grieving process as her husband Nelson battled cancer. In Style Crone’s early days, “What to Wear to Chemo” was Judith and Nelson’s therapeutic project: she would dress up, and he would photograph her in the exam room. Since Nelson died, Style Crone has grown into a noteworthy fashion blog coupled with its immensely popular Instagram account. Recently, Judith has been working on “Widow’s Project,” a presentation to help widows process, which grew out of older blog posts.
For Judith, who will celebrate her 76th birthday in March, fashion functions both as artistic expression and armor. Rather than focusing on traditional beauty, she is attracted to interesting silhouettes, unusual combinations and the individual’s unique choices, because “there’s so much to be said about diversity.” Her comment extends its relevancy to Safta and the Source, which, like Judith, are helping to paint Denver’s contemporary landscape in the mode of Vira II.