Chef/mad scientist Ian Kleinman has been running the Inventing Room as a catering business, pop-up dinner company and educational experience for Denver school kids since 2009, after he left what was then O's at the Westin Westminster. All the while, he's had his eye on finding a permanent storefront where he could dazzle customers with liquid-nitrogen desserts and mind-blowing treats. Kleinman recently found that space, an under-utilized bar area attached to Lower48 Kitchen, where he will open the Inventing Room to the public after construction, which began this week, is complete later this summer.
Kleinman says the spot should be ready for business in five or six weeks. In addition to installing such kitchen basics as a three-compartment sink and a prep counter, Kleinman is doing much of the interior decor himself, in a style he calls "farm-punk."
"I've been creating artwork in my garage," he explains. "And I'm using a lot of stuff I'm finding on my grandfather's farm in Kansas. He's got a woodworking table that he's had in his shop for more than forty years."
That table, along with other fun and whimsical contraptions Kleinman has constructed from found objects, will comprise the "farm" part of the decor. Other futuristic gadgets, like a superconducting train that will carry ingredients around the prep area and a hanging assembly of Pyrex lights, will combine functionality with fantasy.
The menu, which Kleinman likens to a Willy Wonka-style experience, will cover mostly ice cream and desserts, but a few savory options will also be available, especially during colder months when frozen desserts don't sell as well. The food is as much a visual treat as a sensory explosion of tastes and aromas, so each item will be prepared to order, with average ticket times under thirty seconds.
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With eighteen seats, the Inventing Room will be able to host the pop-up dinners and other special events Kleinman has had to hold at other restaurants in the past, he says. Included in those events will be "Gobblefunk" supper-club dinners with guest chefs and a variation on the popular doughnut breakfasts he's hosted at Bittersweet, Sunnyside Burger Bar and Table 6 in recent years.
Kleinman was able to test-run his concept as a competitor on an episode of Restaurant Startup on CNBC Prime, which he and partner Mike Coberlain actually won. Although he ended up not taking investment money from show producer Tim Love, Kleinman says it was a great experience because it gave him a chance to put his concept in front of customers.
Check out Kleinman in action creating desserts on the Inventing Room Facebook page.