"I love Deluxe in spite of myself. Despite reason, despite my better judgment, despite being committed body and soul to the war against California Cuisine -- that limping, wrongheaded, disastrous blight on the soul of American cookery -- and throwing myself into the breach every time a California-style restaurant pops up on my side of the Rocky Mountains, despite all this, I love Deluxe." Jason Sheehan, a former Westword restaurant critic, penned that ode to Deluxe, Dylan Moore's homage to California cuisine, a year after it opened on South Broadway, then a swatch of seedy grit that Moore, Deluxe's owner and chef, knew was a risk. In fact, admitted Moore, "At the beginning, I was making exit plans. I was wondering how much I could sell my stove for."
That stove -- and everything else in Deluxe and Juanita's, the space next door to Deluxe that Moore also owned -- has all been sold; on Saturday night, after service, Moore shuttered both.
See also: - Best Chef's Counter - 2011 Deluxe - After a remodel, Deluxe reopens tomorrow night with a new look and menu - First look: Juanita's, Dylan Moore's new Mexican joint, opens tonight in Baker
"It was a great ten-year run for Deluxe -- a decade in business is an accomplishment for any restaurant -- and while I'm stepping off on a high note, I'm just ready to do something else," says Moore, who opened Deluxe in 2004 and followed its success with Delite, which morphed into Juanita's last year; Moore also launched a food truck and opened Deluxe Burger Bar, now GB Fish & Chips, during the ten years he owned Deluxe.
"It's a great milestone to reach, but Deluxe had run its course, and now I'm going to take a year off and travel, hang out with my son and remodel my loft," Moore tells me, promising, however, that after sojourns to Rio and Bali -- and who knows where else? -- he'll eventually return to the kitchen. "I'm going to cook again at some point -- I still want to be a food guy -- but the next time, I'm hoping it will without the hassles," he admits. "This was my baby and the freedom of cooking is really liberating for me -- and I was lucky to have it -- but I won't miss the headaches of having to deal with the issues of taxes and paying bills. I'm not a numbers guy; I'm a creative guy, and I just want to cook the next time around."
In the meantime, says Moore, his kitchen staff all have jobs at Uber Sausage, and he's offered to pay the employees that have worked with him for at least a year, two weeks' pay. "I've taken care of my employees, and as for me, a whole new world awaits, and I'm ready to explore it," he concludes.
And two new local investors, along with an established restaurateur by the name of Frank Jolley, who spent the last few years in Napa, have bought both spaces and plan to open Gozo, named for the tranquil island in the Mediterranean Sea. Jolley, who also opened Bourbon in Washington D.C. and has worked with several star chefs including Gary Kunz, Michael Chiarello and the long-gone Jean-Louis Palladin, says that the concept is a "simple, straightforward celebration of Mediterranean influences complemented by a wonderful array of Spanish, Italian and California wines."
His girlfriend, a certified sommelier who most recently worked at Press, in St. Helena, will spearhead he wine program, and he's hired Nick Petrilli, a chef in Florida, with whom he worked in Napa, to oversee the kitchen -- and the wood-fired oven that Jolley plans to make front and center.
"We want to be a great addition to a very cool neighborhood -- a restaurant with fine-dining sensibilities that's relaxed and features a wood-fired oven to do everything from flatbreads to vegetables and a well-selected but accessible wine program," explains Jolley. "The Denver food scene is in a good place right now, and we're really excited to be a part of it and just have fun," he adds.
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The spaces, he notes, will undergo light remodels before opening in early August. "We have to get a few permits and there are still some hurdles to clear, but our target date is around the first of August," says Jolley.