While Denver's surge of independent restaurants over the past year or two has been astonishing, national chains still see plenty of opportunities in the surrounding suburbs. In last few days, branches of three corporate entities have found new homes in Lone Tree, Englewood and Northglenn.
Although chains are often responsible for foisting insipid and unhealthy menus on the public, that's not always the case, as evidenced by Jim 'N Nick's Community Bar-B-Q, which opened its fourth metro-area smokehouse in Northglenn earlier today. Despite having 33 restaurants around the country, the barbecue at Jim 'Nick's, which originated in Birmingham, Alabama in 1985, was good enough to be the only non-Colorado company to make our list of the ten best barbecue joints in the city last summer. The Northglenn Jim 'N Nick's takes its place in the shopping center alongside another popular chain, Bad Daddy's Burger Bar, and will be open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Another barbecue chain is also adding to its Colorado collection: Southern Hospitality opened its third location in the state near Park Meadows Mall over the weekend, joining siblings in LoDo and Colorado Springs (where it goes by the name Southern Hospitality Kitchen). Justin Timberlake fans may remember that he was one of the founders of the company when it launched its flagship restaurant in New York City (he's no longer involved in the company). Ryan Tedder, lead singer of the band One Republic, and his father Gary have been involved in franchising the business, which has plans to bring two additional stores to Colorado by the end of this year. The new locations will be fast casual versions of the Southern Hospitality brand.
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Just a little farther north in the Vallagio at Inverness development in Englewood, more meat is on the menu at Colorado's first Eddie Merlot's, a steakhouse and wine concept out of Fort Wayne, Indiana with eleven national locations, mostly in the Great Lakes region. The restaurant, which opened late last week, takes its name from a joke between a couple of rich guys, one who was named Eddie, who decided that merlot would always be the wine of choice. Eddie Merlot's offers prime steaks and 75 wines by the glass and plenty of seating — apparently the dining room is huge. The restaurant is dinner-only, open from Monday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 5 p.m. 9 p.m.