The space at 3801 West 32nd Avenue that last housed Apres Dessert Bar is going in almost the exact opposite direction: toward wings, sandwiches, burgers and beer. Fire on the Mountain, a mini-chain with locations in Portland, Oregon, is expanding into Colorado. By the week of April 23, Denver's Fire on the Mountain should be open and serving its signature wings and sauces. The location is still very much under construction, but the patio is ready for the return of spring.
The Fire on the Mountain locations offer a full menu of sandwiches, burgers, appetizers and dessert, but they're best known for crispy wings and creative sauces. Those sauces range from regular buffalo to spicy peanut to the "El Jefe," which is so spicy it was featured on the Food Network's Outrageous Food. The sauces are all homemade, and some are award-winning.
The first Fire on the Mountain location opened in 2005, and the third location, which includes a brewery, began business at the end of last year. Andrea West, who co-owns the Denver location with Craig Oberlink, has known the Fire on the Mountain founders for many years -- dating back to the days when they were all rafting guides together on the Arkansas River. Since those founders lived in Colorado for several years and West grew up in Denver, this city was a natural for the chain's first expansion outside of Portland.
"We had been talking about it for a long time," says West. "We all knew each other from working together in Colorado and really think the Portland and Denver markets are very similar in terms of the food and beer and ambience that people expect. It's a good neighborhood that we're in. The Highlands is very similar to a lot of the neighborhoods in Portland -- kind of a small, fun, walkable, cool, green neighborhood."
West spent the last few months training at the stores in Portland in preparation for the Denver opening. She's bringing in a kitchen manager from Portland who has worked with the company for five years, but will hire locally to fill out the rest of the staff.
While not going so far as to house a brewery, Denver's Fire on the Mountain will feature seven taps pouring local beer, cider from the Colorado Cider Company, and a cocktail list infused with spirits from local distilleries.
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Fire on the Mountain will also keep it local in the kitchen by using Colorado grass-fed beef and incorporating many Colorado ingredients in the rotating wing sauce of the month. The menu also offers several meatless options, including seitan wings.
With that lineup, West hopes to draw in many of the young families that live in the West Highland neighborhood. "We really are aiming at being a family-friendly restaurant where kids can come and make a mess and it's totally cool," says West. "But you can also get a nice cocktail and eat some good wings."
As for that name, it might seem unfortunate timing for a Denver-area eatery, but it comes from the Grateful Dead song of the same name. And the logo is based on Mt. Hood, a long-extinct volcano that dominates the Portland skyline.