Four Friends Kitchen in Stapleton recently brought on chef Scott Parker to head the kitchen at the lively breakfast and lunch eatery. When the restaurant opened just over a year ago, the kitchen at Four Friends was under the guidance of executive chef Larry Shore, who's moved on to a new venture: He and his partner, Sandy Tracey, just opened their own restaurant, Cedar 65, in the building that was formerly the Whippletree Restaurant at 1335 County Road 65 in Evergreen.
Shore says he left Four Friends because of an injury that required surgery and four months of downtime, but the time away from the kitchen turned into an opportunity. He had previously worked at the Whippletree, where he had been hired in 2014 as the executive chef to install a new menu of more progressive dishes with Southwestern influences. But the management company (which was separate from the owner) that oversaw the restaurant decided to take a more corporate route with the menu, so Shore left. When the Whippletree closed after forty years in business last winter, the building's owner contacted Shore to let him know the restaurant space was available.
Shore and Tracey bought the place in mid-February and opened Cedar 65 in March, introducing a Mediterranean menu with influences from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. "I've been a chef for thirty years," Shore says, but even so, he admits that the move was still a little scary. He's been cooking Mediterranean cuisine for the better part of his career, first learning from Provencal chef Serge Backus at the Frenchman's eponymous restaurant in Connecticut.
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And some of those influences are reflected on Cedar 65's menu. "My friends in Evergreen were complaining that all the restaurants there are the same," he explains. The fresh, light ingredients used in French, Italian, Greek and Moroccan cooking adapt well to modern diners' dietary requests, so between his past cooking experiences and what he perceived as a need for something new in the mountain town, he's designed a menu that features hummus, lentils, goat cheese and lamb as major players, with house-made pastas, grilled flatbreads and North African seasonings rounding out the roster. While Shore's Mediterranean mentor taught strict regional boundaries when learning recipes and techniques — like knowing your pesto from your pistou — Shore isn't afraid to blur lines: At Cedar 65, Moroccan barbecued lamb shares a plate with pomegranate tabouli and grilled ratatouille, while shawarma-style roasted chicken comes with tahini aioli and harissa.
Tracey, an artist herself, displays the work of local artists as well as her own pieces — all of which are for sale — on Cedar 65's walls. The couple named their restaurant after the bar's cedar paneling (which they refurbished before opening) and the county road outside. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, with brunch beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.