"I had nothing to do with it, other than drinking at the bar last Tuesday night," claims Jamey Fader, the culinary director of Big Red F, the Dave Query restaurant group that operates numerous dining dens in Denver and Boulder, including West End Tavern, Lola, Zolo Grill, Happy, Centro and Jax Fish House, the latter of which now has a third sibling in Old Town Fort Collins that went nautical last Thursday night after a series of soft openings.
Fader, who spends the majority of his time on the line at Lola, in Denver, says that Query and Shelia Lucero, the executive chef of Jax, deserve the credit for the launch of Jax Fort Collins, which has been in the works for over a year. "We love the Jax concept, and Dave and Sheila looked all over the place for a new Jax location, and they found a great space in Fort Collins that fit exactly what we were looking for," explains Fader. "We like to have restaurants in towns that are very community-based, and Fort Collins fits into that philosophy perfectly, what with its college atmosphere, terrific farming communities and CSAs."
The space, he tells me, is similar to the other Jax locations: "It's gorgeous, with bare brick walls, a beautiful horseshoe-shaped bar and an open kitchen -- and it just feels like Jax," says Fader.
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Lucero, who will spend the duration of her summer at the Fort Collins store training the staff and making sure the kitchen runs smoothly, notes that the Fort Collins menu is a bit of a detour from the Jax Denver and Boulder boards. "It's definitely a little bit larger, and we're offering steak and pork chops as alternative proteins, and we're getting our trout from a local trout farm near Berthoud," she says. But the Jax classics -- the calamari, crab cakes, Caesar salad and gumbo -- are staying put. "It's Jax, man: It looks, tastes and smells like Jax Boulder and Denver," promises Lucero.
Jax Fort Collins, located at 123 North College Avenue, is open seven nights a week, beginning at 4 p.m. for happy hour and dinner. For more info, call 970- 682-2275.