Last week, hospitality veteran Jesse Morreale announced a return to the Denver restaurant scene with a new project in conjunction with Larimer Associates. We were correct in speculating that the eatery would be in the former home of longtime Northside mainstay Longo's Subway Tavern (as well as a couple of burger joints that have opened and closed in the past year or so), at 3759 Lipan Street. And although the team has yet to announce a name for the place, Morreale is turning to Goose Sorensen, an old friend and fellow service-industry veteran, for guidance on the menu.
Sorensen is the chef/owner of Solera on East Colfax Avenue, which celebrates its fifteenth anniversary later this year. He'll be consulting on the opening menu at Morreale's new restaurant, as well as providing ongoing input once the place opens. "Fifteen years is a long time in one space," says Sorensen, "so this is a good side project for me."
The two are in the process of putting together a food-and-drink program that fits with Morreale's goal "to create an authentic and unpretentious hangout, serving up a healthy dose of nostalgia alongside elevated yet affordable comfort food and blue-collar cocktails, with twenty beers on tap.”
Sorensen thinks that West 38th Avenue is like Colfax. "It needs a workingman's bar," he says. "The menu's going to be an easy read."
He and Morreale hope to appeal to industry folks who live in the neighborhood as well as families and downtown businesspeople returning home after work — "the nine-to-fivers who don't want to wait 25 minutes for a cocktail," Sorensen explains.
There will be unpretentious, fun choices as well as fan favorites from Morreale's last two operations, El Diablo and Rockbar, which both closed in 2012. And this will be Morreale's first venture with televisions, the better to bring in sports fans, whose options are a little limited here on the border of Highland and Sunnyside.
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The last piece of the puzzle before opening remains the name. While we hesitate to speculate on that —"Jesse's great at selling a brand," Sorensen notes — we're certain that anything with the word "Northside" would be a big hit in this neighborhood.
The long-gone Longo's Subway Tavern.