"Hideaway Steakhouse brings on new Executive Chef, Todd Adkins, who has cooked for President Clinton and J Lo and has studied in Paris!" exclaimed the press release that landed in my inbox last week from Hideaway Steakhouse, the Westminster shrine to steer that opened in late March with Chris Cina, a long-time Denver chef, at the helm.
The headline cracked me up. The fact that the release made no mention of Cina made me wonder.
Turns out that Cina, who has cooked in illustrious kitchens throughout Colorado, had been stripped of his whites. "In a nutshell, we just saw things differently," says Cina, who was let go on September 7, following a grueling stint at the Taste of Colorado. "I didn't feel like I was being given the tools I needed to do the job to the best of my ability," he adds.
And by tools, Cina claims that owners Steve and Terrie Woodward refused to divulge the restaurant's financials, among other things. "They wouldn't share any of the financial stuff with me, which I needed to manage the business," explains Cina. And that -- coupled with a breakdown in communication -- frustrated him. "Communication on both sides began to decline, and when the GM, who is a friend of mine, quit in August, I knew that it was only a matter of time before I was replaced," he says.
Cina insists, too, that while the first nine months with the Woodwards -- the time they spent building the restaurant and the first two months Hideaway was open -- were perfectly pleasant, things started going downhill when Cina played, he says, "devil's advocate." The Woodwards, he points out, are not restaurateurs. "They're not restaurant people, and while they are the owners, and they can certainly do things their own way, they just kept saying 'no' to me at every turn -- they no longer wanted my input."
And while Cina admits that he knew he'd likely be let go, he stayed the course. "I didn't want to just quit, because it wasn't the right thing to do, plus I have a family," he notes. Still, he says, when the gantlet came down, and he was summoned into a meeting where the Woodwards announced he'd been replaced, he breathed a sigh of relief. "It wasn't working for them, and it wasn't working for me either," he confesses.
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"Here's the thing: I really like the Woodwards, and they're very nice people," but, Cina cautions "they have a long way to go, and they're in over their heads." And he also has this advice: "I really hope that they give the new team more leeway."
In the meantime, Cina is searching for a new exec chef job. "I'm definitely looking, and I'm talking to people, but it's a horrible time right now to be job hunting," he says. "There just aren't a lot of opportunities out there."
As for Adkins, who's done time in the kitchens at Strings and Washington Park Grill, where he was the exec chef, he's currently designing a new menu. And in a rather peculiar move, Hideaway is closing on Sunday -- a day that it's normally open -- to prepare for the launch of that menu. "We will be open again on Monday, October 24th and are very excited to be debuting the new menu - we look forward to sharing it with all of you! Sorry for the inconvenience," reads a note from the steakhouse.