After several days of stress tests to put the kitchen and waitstaff through their paces, Josh and Jen Wolkon opened Steuben's Arvada last night at Ralston Road and Wadsworth Boulevard, in a revamped space that was formerly a Gunther Toody's Diner. While vestiges of the building's previous life are still evident — especially in the curved, glass-brick corners and sleek 1950s look of the exterior — inside is pure Steuben's, from the gleaming stainless steel to the brown and dusty-blue color scheme to the retro charm that oozes from every square inch of the place.
The details of the new Steuben's keep the eyes so busy that it's difficult to concentrate on the menu. A diner counter with swivel seats faces a bustling kitchen pass-through; disco-era brass lamps cast a golden glow over booths and banquettes; racy wood trim softens every corner along the ceiling and around the bar; a peek inside the restrooms reveals 3-D mirrors that make you feel like you're standing in an infinite tunnel of lights.
Josh Wolkon explains that the goal for the newest member of the Secret Sauce F & B family (which also includes Vesta Dipping Grill and Ace Eat Serve) was to capture the vibe of the first Steuben's while making it distinctly its own thing. So while you'll instantly feel at home at the Arvada spot, the decor is less industrial than at the East 17th Avenue eatery, with more of a 1970s aesthetic. Another familiar feature of the new joint is the warm and attentive service you always find at the original Steuben's, whether from the host stand, the waitstaff or the bar crew, something Wolkon notes was a critical phase of preparation in the short ramp-up from when construction was completed to when the doors opened to the public.
Don't get too distracted by the surroundings, though, because new menu items from executive chef Brandon Biederman and his team await, nestled among familiar favorites from the Uptown original. Yes, the gravy fries, Steubie Snacks, green-chile cheeseburger and spot-on Maine lobster roll are still there, but joining them are a new gyros sandwich plate (you can see the meat slow-roasting on a vertical rotisserie right behind the counter), potato and sauerkraut pierogi, a "basic breakfast" plate served all day, and a soon-to-debut Salisbury steak entree as the Tuesday-night special. Save room for dessert, too, with housemade ice cream and other treats from pastry chef Nadine Donovan.
The bar also gets an Arvada twist, with a new cocktail called the Ralston's Point, made with Averna, Fernet Branca, strawberry syrup and lemon juice; the drink joins a roster of classics and house specialties.
While last night was a soft opening for the neighborhood, the new Steuben's kicks off today, with hours from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 5. p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday. (Lunch and brunch will come later.)