Since El Tepehuan closed up shop last fall and became the El Tep food truck, a prime downtown Englewood restaurant space has stood vacant. El Tep plans to eventually reopen a few doors down, but only rumors have circulated about who would move into 3457 South Broadway. But now a lease has been signed and construction is under way; the new tenant is Zomo Asian American Kitchen, the work of Alysia Davey and her fiancé, Ryan Anderson.
Davey explains that while she's not Vietnamese, her adoptive father is. And her love of Vietnamese cuisine comes from her grandmother, who at one point owned a restaurant in Kansas and now works as a chef in a pho kitchen in one of Denver's northwest suburbs. "I hate to call it fusion," she says of her restaurant concept, "but I'm the definition of fusion."
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So while Zomo will feature scratch-made pho on its eclectic menu, it will also include Davey's grandmother's home-style recipes, such dishes as meatloaf made with vermicelli noodles instead of bread and baked with a topping of sriracha ketchup, and burgers made with onion, hoisin and soy sauce. She'd also like to incorporate traditional Vietnamese home cooking into Zomo's offerings, with duck featured as a prominent protein.
Davey and Anderson are both recent college graduates; Anderson earned a master's degree in mechanical engineering, so he's doing most of the design himself (including the graphic rendering of Zomo in the picture above), and he and Davey are handling the majority of construction. Because of this, Davey is putting a broad range on the eventual opening date but thinks October 2016 would be the earliest. The two have plenty of experience in construction: They remodeled five houses together while in college.
They're also saving money by shopping for secondhand restaurant equipment around the country, recently returning from road trips to Tennessee and Pennsylvania with an eighty-gallon steam kettle and a truckload of chairs. "Efficiency and consistency — those are my two main focuses," Davey notes.
Once completed, Zomo will have a liquor license, glass-paneled garage doors and patio seating in the plaza between it and the Brew on Broadway. Davey says the name Zomo came to her because she wanted a simple, four-letter word that had no meaning in any language. "Then we can make the meaning ourselves," she explains.