TAG|RAW BAR, Troy Guard's house of (mostly) raw foodstuffs that are good for your body and soul, is one of the city's most petite restaurants, but by the start of Denver Restaurant Week(s), Guard and his gang will have doubled the size of the below street level space in the Larimer Square pedestrian walkway.
"I was talking to some of our investors, who said that they loved RAW, but that they'd love it even more if we expanded and added some additional seats," says Guard, admitting that he was initially hesitant. "I really kinda like the vibe that we have -- and we've been doing great in this little space -- but when when the space next to us became vacant, it just made sense, and it gives us the opportunity to be a bit more of a dining destination, which is what most of the restaurants on Larimer Square are," including TAG, Guard's original restaurant on Larimer Square.
The expansion, Guard tells me, will entail knocking out a portion of the wall between the raw bar and the vacant storefront, a former boutique, and most recently, Santa's Underground North Pole, a makeshift holiday shop. "We're going to break down half of the wall, and the new addition will have some really cool booths and tables and a killer fabric that we picked out that will go with the orange and white color scheme," he says, noting, too, that the extension will accommodate an additional 34 butts. "We're doubling down," he quips.
"We've had our ups and downs, no doubt about it, but we're starting to get a lot of national press, mainly because this is a cutting-edge concept -- there aren't a lot of restaurants doing mostly raw food -- and now that we're expanding, I think we'll do even better," predicts Guard.
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And along with the new square footage, TAG RAW is expanding its menu. "We're going to add more noodle bowls and rice bowls, dumplings and shishito peppers, more seafood dishes, more fresh-pressed vegetable and fruit juices, including a V-12 juice, and we're also going to offer cold soups, sorbets and ice creams that we'll do in the Pacojet," says Guard. "We're getting really creative with the menu, and I'm using things like coconut water and aloe, which brings a while new dynamic to what we're doing." Guard notes, too, that the TAG menu, in its entirety, will also be available at TAG RAW.
While TAG RAW emphasizes raw cuisine with a punctuated Asian slant, Guard and his kitchen comrades don't completely shy away from cooked preparations, and his extended menu will also incorporate a few more dishes that see heat. "We don't have a hood, but we've got a few induction burners, and we'll add a few more to facilitate the additional seating, but the focus will continue to be on raw foods," he explains.
"We're really killing it here, and more and more people are coming down and enjoying our food, and we're super-excited to expand and make this a one-stop shop where you can have a great dinner in a very cool atmosphere," says Guard, who hopes to have the expansion completed by February 23, two days before Denver Restaurant Week takes over the city's culinary scene.