Chef Scott Durrah and his wife, Wanda James, ended the four-year run of their restaurant Jezebel's Southern Bistro last Sunday in order to focus on their marijuana business. But it turns out that they didn't exactly abandon the space at 3301 Tejon Street; instead, they passed the baton to Juan Padro, Max MacKissock, Blake Edmunds and the team behind Bar Dough and Highland Tap and Burger, who plan to convert the address into a Latin American restaurant.
"I know Scott and Wanda well, and I knew they were really focused on this other aspect of their lives," says Padro. "I let them know a while back that when they were ready to start thinking about leaving that space, we wanted to be the ones that they talked to. We can house some of their employees, as well, so it makes a lot of sense."
Longtime followers of the Denver restaurant scene will note that there's some poetry in this development: MacKissock launched into the upper echelon of the Denver chef stratosphere from this space, back when it was the original location of the Squeaky Bean. Because of that, Padro jokes, "We thought about calling the restaurant Plan B." Instead, they're going with Señor Bear. In this iteration of the space, MacKissock will have culinary oversight, but it's Edmunds who will act as executive chef; he'll also be a partner in this restaurant.
The team plans to offer ceviche, crudo and tacos built on Mexican and Caribbean flavors, plus a raw bar and a cocktail program that focuses on rum, tequila and mezcal. "I eat the hell out of that food," says Padro, who is Puerto Rican. "It's Mexican-influenced, but we want to use flavors that I grew up with, and that Max and Blake really like a lot."
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Theirs won't be a strict interpretation of Latin American cuisine. "It'll be just like Bar Dough, where we took classic Italian dishes, made some adjustments and produced food that we like to eat," says Padro.
The space itself will look like "a modern rum bar," says the new owner, with whitewashed woods and tile, and space for 45 to 50 diners inside, plus 45 more on the patio. And like the group's other concepts, the restaurant will channel a casual neighborhood vibe.
Look for a March 2017 opening.