By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
Rymer reason: Last week Gary Rymer won his case in Denver County Court's small claims division against Budapest Bistro (1585 South Pearl Street) and its owners, Rudi and Anna Hellvig. In June, Rymer had filed suit against the Hellvigs, claiming they'd been taking from 20 to 30 percent of his tips for "busboys, hosts and bartenders" who Rymer says never existed.
Without plunging back into the dirty dishwater that is the state's Department of Labor regulations regarding tip pooling (see "Gratuituous Behavior," June 4, and the letters section in the June 11 issue), suffice it to say that tip pooling is allowed in this state, as is removing a percentage of a server's tips to tip out a busboy, host or bartender. What Rymer was claiming, however, was that he often did his own busing, bartending and hosting work at Budapest Bistro and thus should have been able to keep all of his tips.
The judge agreed and advised the Hellvigs to settle the matter, which they did. "After first offering me $200 and then $500, which I did not accept, they gave me $1,000," says Rymer, who had asked for $1,500 initially (his estimate of the amount the Hellvigs had taken from his tips). On Rymer's behalf, former Budapest Bistro employee Dave McKee had testified that the Hellvigs did not always employ busers, hosts and bartenders. "Basically, what the judge was upset the most about was the fact that Rudi was in control of the money, and it was his decision to take my tip money and distribute it however he wanted to," Rymer says.
1585 S. Pearl St.
Denver, CO 80210
Region: South Denver
Because the action was in small claims court and the money matter was settled, the Hellvigs cannot appeal. They did not return my phone calls.
Open-and-shut cases: It figures. No sooner had I raved about Hugo's (1336 East 17th Avenue) and its cook, Lanelle Young ("Southern Comfort," July 23), than owner David French goes and sells the place to Tony Pasquini, of Pasquini's (1310 South Broadway) fame. No one seems to know what Southern-cooking marvel Young will do next, but the 17th Avenue spot where she did her wonderful thing will now be called Pasquini's and will have the same menu, the same $10 wine list and the same theme as the original. Pasquini will own this second outlet with Chase Kintz, who has been a manager at the South Broadway location for three years, and Darren Carburry, who also worked at the original. And the original site's general manager, Kris Hegge, will manage the 17th Avenue location. Look for pizza and pasta to start coming out of that kitchen by late August.
By the way, Pasquini's next-door bakery, which had been called Campagna, is now Pasquini's Baking. "Hostess or one of the other big national baking companies bought a bakery out of New York that was called Campagna," explains Hegge. "They were thinking about opening one here in Denver, and it was easier for us to just go ahead and change the name than try to battle it out in court."
Meanwhile, another excellent pasta restaurant, Pastina (1485 South Colorado Boulevard), has closed--but part-owner Alexander Rolle swears it's not for good. He and his wife and son have an opportunity to live and work in London for nine months, and they don't want to pass that up. "Look for us to reopen in approximately a year," Rolle says. Also on the Italian-food front, the phone's been disconnected at Siena (266 South Downing Street), and the Mediterranean Mediterra at 1475 Lawrence Street is nothing but a memory.
Speaking of the Mediterranean, now open at 7777 East Hampden Avenue is Tre Philios, which bills itself as a "twist of fine dining"; the menu lists Greek and other Mediterranean-type dishes, as well as a barbecued-chicken sandwich and a buffalo burger.
David Klamann recently e-mailed me "a few updates from the People's Republic." We'd already caught the closing of Boulder's Al Fresco (2690 Baseline Road)--the second try at cloning a restaurant that's done well in LoDo but also died in Arvada. And Dot's Diner, which had already opened a second spot in the old Broadway home of Mother's, has replaced its original location at 799 Pearl Street with a more upscale outpost at 2716 28th Street. The original hole-in-the-wall, Klamann points out, is "now a hole in the ground." But Dot's still turns out great huevos rancheros, even if they're not served in the funky atmosphere of an old gas station.
Free advertising: Also up Boulder way, MijBani at 2005 18th Street is once again pursuing "Mango Madness," with menus every weekend throughout August featuring the fruit. Look for mango-banana-coconut shakes, mango pickles, mango casseroles and mango curries, the latter of which I've sampled at MijBani and loved. Up in the mountains, Keystone Resort continues to expand its cooking classes--including free outdoor campfire cooking classes every Friday from 5 to 6 p.m. until September 4.
Closer to home, the Fourth Story (2955 East First Avenue) is doing martinis and live jazz on Mondays starting at 5:30 p.m.; on August 11, the restaurant will feature the wines of Pine Ridge Vineyards with five courses of chef Dave Steinmann's fab food for $83 per person.