"When Restaurant Kevin Taylor opened, it was a completely new offering for Denver, a city still very much trying to find its way on the culinary map," reflects Kevin Taylor, chef of Kevin Taylor's at the Opera House, Limelight Supper Club, Palettes at the Denver Art Museum, Rouge and the Teller Bar in Central City, Restaurant Kevin Taylor and Prima Ristorante, the last two of which are the in-house restaurants at the Hotel Teatro, which will soon undergo a multimillion-dollar renovation -- a renovation that won't include Taylor's namesake restaurant or Prima. Restaurant Kevin Taylor will close on Sunday, March 30, and Prima will shut its doors on May 1 so that it, too, can be renovated before reopening as a new restaurant, operated by the hotel.
"We put our hearts and souls into this restaurant, traveling across the world and incorporating pieces of our culinary experiences into the menu, and that really resonated with people," says Taylor about his eponymous restaurant, which has been one of Denver's most recognized fine-dining restaurants for the past fifteen years. "For those reasons, we're really sad to see this particular restaurant come to an end, but it means positive things for the future of Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group -- and it allows us to be really innovative once again," explains Taylor.
Taylor made the announcement to his employees earlier today, and all were given three weeks' notice, stresses Taylor, noting, too, that many of those employees will be given jobs at the other properties within the Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group. "We're so thankful to our managers, staff and partners, because without them and their high degree of dedication and professionalism, the past fifteen years wouldn't have been possible," Taylor admits.
"Closing these restaurants is bittersweet, but we're extremely grateful for the past fifteen years and also extremely excited about the future and what this will open the door to," says Taylor, whose lustrous culinary career, which began more than two decades ago, made him one of the first trailblazers of the Denver restaurant scene -- and a chef to emulate. And over the years, Restaurant Kevin Taylor made a huge splash nationally, too, generating awards and accolades from numerous publications, including Wine Spectator and Food & Wine magazine.
Still, admits Taylor, "it's a different restaurant landscape now than it was in 1999 when we opened Restaurant Kevin Taylor." Trends, he acknowledges, "have moved away from fine dining and in the direction of more casual experiences, and with that, the possibilities for a new, different venture for Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group are endless."
Design for the new restaurant and reception areas will be created by a local team, handpicked by the hotel ownership, including Oz Architects, Tundra Kitchen design and interior designer Studio Frank.
"Restaurant Kevin Taylor has been a significant part of the Hotel Teatro experience these past fifteen years, and it's been a pleasure to have such a notable establishment as part of the hotel," says Afsi Bird, general manager of Hotel Teatro. "We're excited to look ahead at the next chapter and introduce a new, integrated experience to our guests," she adds.
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In the meantime, Taylor is looking toward his own future: "A lot of good things are on the horizon, and we'll continue to maintain our strong culinary position within Denver's arts community, restaurants and catering operations at the Denver Performing Arts Complex and the Denver Art Museum," he says, adding that he just inked a deal to become a caterer at the Clyfford Still Museum. "We're very excited about that, and to those who will miss Restaurant Kevin Taylor and Prima as much as we all will, we hope you'll find a new home at one of our other venues."