Shawn Tram is rattling off the names of Denver chefs and restaurateurs who have recently stuffed themselves to the brink at Super Star Asian, the Chinese emporium, renowned for its dim sum, that Tram has managed for the past three years: "Matt Selby, Frank Bonanno, Gene Tang from Restaurant 1515...we get a lot of chefs who come here," says Tram.
Chefs and just about everyone else in Denver jonesing for handmade dumplings and steamed chicken feet, noodles and sesame balls, shark's fin soup and war wonton soup. And while the entourage of bodies that packs the house every weekend is a testament, says Tram, to how good the dim sum at Super Star Asian really is, the waits -- sometimes exceeding sixty, ninety minutes -- are excruciating. And that, he notes, makes people go bat-shit crazy -- and bat-shit crazy crowds, especially bat-shit crazy hungry crowds, aren't exactly a breeze to deal with, so Tram is doing what those throngs of people have asked him to do for ages: He's expanding.
"Business is growing every month, which is surprising in this economy, but our business has gone up 35 percent since last November, and the waits on the weekends are just too long -- people don't like waiting for an hour -- so it's time that we finally expand," says Tram. In order to do so, he's knocking out an entire wall on the south side of the dining room, and he'll also completely remodel the existing dining room, a boxy sweep of careening carts, grass green chairs and white walls that have seen better days.
"We have 117 seats now, but by the time we're done with the expansion and remodel, we'll have 215 seats, new floors and carpet, new booths and chairs, new lighting, a gigantic fish tank with more than 450 pounds of fish, a 20,000-square-foot reception hall downstairs and freshly painted walls -- the color of champagne," he says.
Speaking of fish and champagne, all the fish in the new tank will be edible, and while Super Star currently has a 3.2 liquor license, which allows it to only pour beer, Tram says that he's working on obtaining a full liquor license, which he'll pursue once Super Star unveils its new makeover and expansion in mid-November. "We're keeping our fingers crossed that we're done with all of this by Thanksgiving," says Tram.
And the restaurant won't close while all of this is going on: it's still open from 10 a.m. to midnight daily, serving dim sum and a full menu.