The plans for the new, improved City, O' City go to the city today. Dan Landes, who opened the original WaterCourse Foods in the City, O City space in 1998, has now bought the whole building, which will allow for a major overhaul of City, O' City, as well as a special project upstairs: ArtPlant, a gallery/studio space that will take advantage of the building's proximity to the Denver Art Museum, the Kirkland Museum and a host of other exciting developments along 13th Avenue.
But right now, the focus is on getting those plans for City O' City approved. "After thirteen years, the kitchen needs a break," Landes says. "If we're going to survive, we need to grow."
WaterCourse grew when it moved to its new home at 837 East 17th Avenue a few years ago. That was a big project, but not as big as this one will be, since the space had at least housed a restaurant before, and much of the work was "done with my own two hands," Landes says. But since the City, O City expansion into the former hair studio on the corner involves a change of use, it's a much more complicated process - which means that Landes doesn't know when, exactly, City, O' City will have to close for the major work....and his customers have been asking.
"I am not in control," he admits. That's all up to the city's permitting process, the contractor. But he does know this: The bar will stay where it is, with some upgrades to the bathrooms; overall seating will expand from around eighty to 150 seats; there will be an open kitchen with a food bar, as well as a slow bar for the baristas; and a patio will stretch along Sherman Street. Chef Brandon Doyle, who moved over from Jonesy's EatBar last fall, is already working on an expanded vegan/vegetarian menu, which will focus more on "flavor profiles with vegetables."
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So it will help that Landes has a one-acre microfarm, Hazel Rah, in Lakewood, which is working with both of his restaurants. WaterCourse, too, is making some menu changes, as chef Rachel Kesley (profiled in this Chef and Tell) gives her own stamp to the lineup there. "She wants to keep up with the competition," Landes notes.
Even if the competition has the same owner.