By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
Blue Moon:The former owner/operators of Osaka Sushi (see review, page 56) know all about growing pains. On June 1, Jessie Sonand Young Joe Kwon celebrated the grand opening of Sushi Moon (6585 Greenwood Plaza Boulevard in Greenwood Village), and the place has yet to settle into a routine.
For starters, they've already burned through one chef, who left behind an ostensibly Asian board that's interesting mostly for its eclectic pairings — lamb chops and mango chutney, a turkey wrap with brie — offered alongside chicken katsu, shumai, gyoza and sea bass udon. Although the sushi bar remains well-manned, Son and Kwon had hoped to branch out with Moon, providing a comprehensive fusion menu in a space meant for more upscale dining. So now they're in the market for a new chef, and talking with other cooks about writing menus for them.
1618 E. 17th Ave.
Denver, CO 80218
Region: Central Denver
Still, the restaurant is young, and Son and Kwon are veteran operators. I'll be watching to see how they pull it together.
Leftovers: More new restaurants are heading our way. First there's the Abbey Restaurant and Lounge, going into the first floor of the infamous Real World: Denver house at 1920 Market Street. The father-and-son development team of Shane and Steve Alexander bought the property last December (for just south of three million), and since then have been wooing potential tenants with the cachet of running their business out of the Real Worldhouse. "Cachet" in this case apparently not meaning "smell" — of spilled microbrews, desperation, homosexual tension, world-beating freakouts and a fine frosting of smeared genetic material.
But the main floor was reserved for the Alexanders' nightclub and restaurant (Shane has some experience in the business). And the Abbey is now hiring, advertising and looking at an opening in late July or early August.
That's about the time that French 250 hopes to open its doors in the former El Toro Palomospace at 250 Steele Street, just to the right of Sketch. French food in a basement? After seeing how well Mexicanfood did in that same spot, I can't wait to see how this goes. Particularly since the San Francisco-based Extreme Pizzafranchise — which was operating on Sketch's left flank in the same 250 Steele address — has already closed. Peeking through the windows last week, I could see supplies laid out on the counters, tables set for service — all the trappings of a fast bug-out by the staff. And the lawsuit filed against the operators was actually taped to the front door, just above the dings and scratches where it looked as though someone had gone after the lock with a crowbar. According to the paperwork, the owners and guarantors owed about five large in back rent and fees when things went south. Hardly a crushing number, but apparently enough to thin the herd of fancy-pants pizzerias in this town by one.
The name was fancy, but the food was anything but at the Theatre Cafe (1335 Curtis Street), which has also closed its doors. Whoever answered the phone there on Monday wouldn't tell me anything other than that the place had shut down for "renovations," and anything else I wanted to know was "none of my business."
Which probably means that having an actual restaurant just a few feet away really killed the Theatre Cafe's business. The Corner Officeopened on June 8 in the corner of the Curtis Hotel, at 14th and Curtis streets, and is already attracting the same kind of slick, retro-hipster comfort crowds that Steuben's drew to 17th Avenue last year. It's serving a board of steaks and small plates, martinis and empanadas, chicken and waffles, hip cocktails and late-night deals that mean you can dine in style before or after the theater.
This is the first big restaurant venture from the Sage Restaurant Group, started in 2005 by Sage Hospitality, which owns the Curtis as well as other hotels. Sage's next big project in town? Redeveloping the soon-to-be former Mirepoix in the JW Marriott in Cherry Creek. The onetime Bryan Moscatello-run restaurant never managed to find traction, and sometime next year it will be replaced by Second Home. Not a moment too soon, either.