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An Open Book

Jay Chadron swears Opal will soon have a sibling.

Except that Nassi was after Chadrom to take on the back space as well -- the one that the hallway (complete with new bathrooms) led to. And eventually, Chadrom agreed. Another addendum was added to the lease in September 2005, but this one required an extension of the liquor license to cover the additional square footage. It also required that new plans be submitted to the city, that new inspections be scheduled, and that all the planning that had been done to cover a 3,000-square-foot raw bar now be redone for a double-sized restaurant and bar. And while he was at it, Chadrom decided to get a cabaret license for the back. And then he decided to do a full menu at dinner, plus lunch. And to make the bathrooms bigger. And to add a 600-gallon aquarium.

Last October, Chadrom got a temporary certificate of occupancy that covered his original 3,000 square feet (plus bathrooms). But he decided to wait until the entire place was done before he opened any part of it. "I found that when you're doing HVAC and plumbing, it's best to do it all at once," Chadrom explained. "It's time-saving and money-saving."

Right. It's the difference between paying a fuckload of money up front or paying a triple fuckload of money over time and also putting up with the hassle of serving while a bunch of tile-layers, electricians and union lathe-and-plaster guys bang around in the back room.

Location Info

Map

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

2010 16th St.
Boulder, CO 80302

Category: Restaurant > Health

Region: Boulder

So a projected opening date for October passed, as did another one around the first of the year. The terms of Chadrom's much-amended lease with Nassi are protected by a confidentiality agreement, but he did tell me he had a few free months worked into the agreement. "All I can tell you is that I have been paying some rent," he said. "For the last three months or so. We were disputing when was the possession date, when was pre-rent. But Craig is a good friend of mine. Business is business, you know, but we came to an agreement."

And now he's seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. "Everything is done now," Chadrom said last week. "It's just, you know, the final touches. Finishes on the paint. Nothing architectural or electrical. Nothing functional. Theoretically, I could be serving drinks today. Or food. You've really got to see this place for yourself."

The menu -- originally written over a year ago by Chadrom and his chef, Jose Guerrero, who'll be standing post nightly in Aqua's kitchen -- is "fish only," Chadrom promised. Aqua will be doing cold apps and seasonal oysters, flights of soup, sashimi both old-style and new. There will be ceviches, a do-it-yourself salad menu, plates made of ice, shrimp cocktail by the pound, whole crabs, whole lobsters, mussels by the bucket and plateaus de fruits de mer large enough to serve parties of eight. It's a huge menu, and hugely ambitious -- without a single fried item, without a single dish coming sautéed.

"There's not a pan in the entire restaurant," Chadrom barked at me, very proud of the tricky strictures under which his kitchen will operate.

But now, all he has to do is finally get open. The 10th is the date he's looking at.

"The tenth of August?" I asked, to make sure.

"I hope," Chadrom said.

And I want to ask, "Of this year?" But I don't. It's all on him now, and God knows he's got a lot riding on hitting this date. I'll certainly be there this weekend to find out if he makes it.

And I can't wait to see those bathrooms.

The true story of Mr. Ed: Horsemeat was on everyone's minds July 25, when a House Trade and Consumer Protection subcommittee got to debate H.R. 503, better known as the "American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act."

There are currently three foreign-owned processing facilities in the United States -- two in Texas and one in Illinois -- that slaughter, process and ship horsemeat overseas for human consumption, working their way through about 90,000 horses a year. But the horse that really brought this to everyone's attention was 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, who in 2002 ended up on a killing floor in Japan -- where, I assume, he got turned into tasty, tasty horse burgers.

At the hearing, spokespeople for the $60 million-a-year horsemeat industry argued that they provide a necessary (and yummy) service in the disposal of all these horses. On the other side of the debate, though, is everyone else in the entire country, who -- for reasons totally beyond me -- thinks that horses deserve some kind of special protection from the slaughterhouse and shouldn't be eaten, no matter how delicious they might be.

To anyone who's read this column before, it should be fairly obvious on which side of this issue I come down. I'm not guilt-stricken over being at the top of the food chain (or near the top, anyway -- with sharks, zombies and wolfmen having just the slightest environmental advantage), and if you're slower, dumber or more delicious than me? Sorry. You're lunch. And I'm even slightly pissed off that I can't get horsemeat here in the States. Oh, sure, I can get horse in the form of glue. I can get it to feed to my dog, my piranha, my pet hyena, whatever. But I can't get it at a restaurant, and -- as far as I was able to determine in one afternoon's research -- I can't even get it shipped to me to cook myself.

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