It's the economy, stupid.
That was essentially the message conveyed to Kyle Fitzgerald, the now former executive chef of the Old Blinking Light, last Tuesday when he arrived for work. The news, conveyed by Joseph Wrede, owner/chef of the old Blinking Light (and the previous owner/chef of Joseph's Table in Taos, which shuttered in April), came as a surprise to Fitzgerald, who'd been at the helm of the Southwestern restaurant in Highlands Ranch since August 2008.
"I walked through the door, Joseph said he wanted to talk, and he basically told me that the economy doesn't call for two chefs in one restaurant, and since his restaurant in Taos closed, he's been spending a lot more time here. He needs a place to cook," says Fitzgerald.
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But Fitzgerald isn't fuming. Instead, he's looking to open his own restaurant, this one in Littleton, in a former auto body garage on Main Street. "I'd like to do something similar to the Old Blinking Light, something that focuses on Southwestern comfort food, using all-natural, local ingredients," explains Fitzgerald, adding that most everything will be made in-house. "Littleton is calling for good restaurants, and I think that what we have planned will be a good addition to the neighborhood."
The new joint will also focus on mixology. "When I was at the Old Blinking Light, I built it up and drug it up from the ground, and now I want to step up my game even further, and that means playing around with alcohol and doing some really fun mixology stuff," says Fitzgerald.
While Fitzgerald works to get his restaurant off the ground, he's also spending time at Biscuits and Berries, a catering and event-planning company, where Fitzgerald's best friend is the executive chef. "I'm cooking and doing whatever I can to help out," he says.
The new restaurant, still unnamed, is slated to open next spring.