Just shy of a month ago, Paul Attardi, the familiar front-of-the-house face of Fruition, Alex Seidel's (still) spellbinding restaurant on Sixth Avenue, parted ways with his sidekick after a ten-year business partnership. And now, what may very well be the best front-of-the-house job in a Denver restaurant is up for grabs.
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The two initially met at Mizuna, where Seidel was the executive chef and Attardi, the maître d'. Attardi left Mizuna to spend some time in North Carolina, where he owns a house, but when Seidel began looking for spaces to open Fruition, he made a phone call to his former colleague. "I called Paul and asked if he'd be interested in moving back to Denver and helping me open Fruition," recalls Seidel, whose restaurant resides in the former Somethin' Else space that belonged to chef Sean Kelly.
"When Paul came back from North Carolina, we sat down with Sean and talked about the possibilities of taking over that space, and by the end of the weekend, we'd decided that we should open up a restaurant together," remembers Seidel. "When we opened Fruition, we shared the same philosophy of hospitality," he notes, "and we both wanted Fruition to be the kind of restaurant that felt like we were inviting people into our home. We wanted to be a neighborhood restaurant that made people happy."
Over the past several months, however, Seidel says he noticed Attardi taking a step back from his pivotal role at Fruition as maître d. "He was pulling back and was down to working three or four nights a week, and while I still wanted to create, I think he felt like his time at Fruition -- that the pressures of the business -- were started to wear on him," explains Seidel. "He enjoys life on the beach, and he enjoys simplicity," he adds.
The two haven't spoken since Attardi departed, and while Seidel acknowledges that Attardi was a "great host," he's also looking forward to a new chapter at Fruition. "I don't know where he is, or what he's doing, but I absolutely consider him the best front man I've ever worked with, and I wish him the best -- and there are regulars here that will miss him, too -- but this change gives the staff a chance to figure out where we can improve and get better. It's a good opportunity for us to hire new leadership for the front of the house," says Seidel.
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As for who will take over Attardi's position, Seidel is taking his time. "I didn't want to make any changes before the holidays for obvious reasons, and it's going to be a process," he admits, "but I'm talking to people on the inside of the business for ideas, and I'm looking forward to what the future brings." And that includes Fruition's six-year anniversary, which Seidel and his crew will celebrate on February 5.