Über Eats — the former LoHi eatery, not the online food delivery system — sizzled its last sausage late last year at 1535 Central Street. But the restaurant space, cozied up under the same lofts as Masterpiece Delicatessen, was too desirable to sit vacant for long. The eagle eyes of Juan Padro, Katie O'Shea and Max MacKissock (one of the hottest restaurateur teams in town, and the brains behind the Tap & Burger group, Bar Dough, Señor Bear and the upcoming Morin) spotted an opportunity and are swooping in with Maine Shack, a New England-style lobster and clam house with food overseen by MacKissock and Bar Dough colleague Craig Dixon.
Dixon is a native of Boston's North Shore who spent summers in his youth helping out at his parents' roast beef and clam shack. He'll be creating a range of lobster rolls (both the kind you'd expect and the kind you won't), fried "whole belly" clams, roast beef sandwiches and other New England specialties.
Maine Shack is the vision of Drew Ryan, another East Coast kid (and founder of MoBoogie). "I came up with this concept more than three years ago," he explains.
He's been working with Padro to bring his vision to life ever since. "It's going to be like stepping out of Denver and into Maine," Ryan adds. Taking advantage of relationships with Maine lobster and seafood fishers, he and Dixon are bringing in fresh, high-quality product, and they're also buying up used equipment to decorate the dining area, so you won't see any kitschy tourist-shop knickknacks. Ryan also procured stacks of reclaimed Maine barn wood that will help transform the space, and there will be a wall mural of the Portland Head lighthouse to help evoke cool, foggy coastal days, even under the bright Colorado sun.
As for the lobster rolls, there will be both mayo-based and butter-based versions, which often separate lobster lovers into distinct camps. "We're not trying to solve an argument or start one," Ryan notes. "We're just trying to make the best lobster."
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"The thing that I love about the food in Maine is that it's simple, so that the seafood speaks for itself," Dixon adds.
The final partner in the group is John Caprio, the current general manager of Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre.
Construction being what it is these days, Padro says there's not a firm date for opening yet, but he says they've gotten through the city permitting process, so that part of the waiting game is over. "Sometime this summer" was as close as the team would get to pinning down a date. Ryan adds that he'd really like to be open before football season, so that Patriots fans can come watch games — and Broncos fans, too.
Sound good? Get a preview of Maine Shack's menu this Saturday, June 16, at a pop-up lunch at Bar Dough (2227 West 32nd Avenue) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The offerings will include lobster rolls, lobster mac & cheese, fried clams and lobster tail with clarified butter, among others.