While living in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, Bretton Scott rented out his apartment for a week via Airbnb to a French woman who designed restaurants. She told him he should design a restaurant like his living room — and that’s essentially what he’ll be doing with his new restaurant and bar, Fort Greene, which he plans to open in mid-April at 321 East 45th Avenue in Globeville. That space was most recently home to Crash 45. Bretton's brother, Aaron Scott, has owned the building since 2008, when the Portulaca Cafe, a Slavic speakeasy for decades, moved out and the White Owl moved in. Crash 45 took over in 2011.
Bretton, who moved to Denver in late January, has been transforming the space into a place that somewhat resembles his Brooklyn apartment. Although his living room, where he’d throw dinner parties but never had a dinner table, was about a fifteenth the size of Fort Greene, he’s giving it a similar feel, with a piano, chandelier and lots of books, old piano rolls and antiques. Scott also looked to Gertrude Stein’s salon in Paris for inspiration. “Part salon, part saloon,” he says. “Hopefully, it will be somewhat of a vibrant and raucous atmosphere, but sophisticated.”
During his tenure in New York, Bretton cooked at the Brooklyn-based Italian restaurant Brucie; he also managed notorious celebrity hot spot the Waverly Inn for close to three years. “That was really where I got a lot of my skills in terms of at least running the front of the house,” he says. “But I’ll be cooking here. It will be my food. I’m going to start off really small, because I don’t want to scare anybody off.”
The brothers are originally from Wisconsin. Bretton says he’ll also serve “a lot of good Wisconsin bar food done very well,” like beer-batter fried cheese curds and a Sheboygan-style hamburger on a Semmel roll. He'll also serve vegetarian options and vegetable sides, and he's considering having a few different types of French fries every week. He plans to have a lot of specials, including a Friday-night fish fry and prime-rib night. A third of his menu will be static; the other two-thirds will be seasonal or ever-changing. Scott will be locally sourcing as much of his food as possible, using the nearby GrowHaus for his greens and meat.
Bretton wants Fort Greene to be as casual as possible, like cafes in Northern Europe.“You go to these cafes and you sit down; nobody’s really showing you your table,” he says. “Someone comes up to you and it’s a very cocktail-service kind of thing. You have really decent wine. If you want, you can get a little bit more food, but there’s just really good snacks. And it becomes this beautiful place that’s…they’re just not fussy. At the same time, it has this overall charm that you feel so at home, it’s like you could sit there and have dinner.”