The push is on for new restaurants to open before year-end. While Thanksgiving week is generally a quiet time, two anticipated eateries -- D Bar and Blackbird -- are swinging their doors open to customers this week. A flurry of activity should bring in at least a few others in the coming month, including Stout Street Social, which plans to open its expansive, 250-seat space on the ground floor of the Embassy Suites -- directly across the street from the Colorado Convention Center -- on December 9. Stout Street Social is the latest from Frank Day's Concept Restaurants, the restaurant group that also operates Humboldt, Ignite Burgers & Lounge and the Rialto Cafe.
Sean Huggard, director of operations for Concept Restaurants, says the restaurant will draw downtown workers and residents as well as visitors to the convention center and the Denver Performing Arts Complex. While the menu will offer a broad range of American dishes, there will also be a happy hour featuring martinis, $1.50 oysters and other business-geared specials.
Because Concept Restaurants expects a diverse crowd, the space has been divided into several sections that flow around an oval bar designed to evoke a race track. Near the entrance, a lively high-top and communal drink-rail area flows into cushy bar booths with a view onto 14th Street. A moodier main dining area looks into an exhibition kitchen with a counter that's intentionally lower than standard for a full view of the action. A quieter, wine-themed space is designed for socializing amid tables topped with reclaimed wood from wine crates, a wall made from wine bottles and light covers built from olive buckets and wooden rulers.
One unique feature will be what Huggard calls "Social TV": a custom-designed system that will display real-time social media on an eight-by-ten-foot projection screen. Customers will be able to Tweet or Facebook messages that will instantly appear on the screen, uncensored by the restaurant. The bar -- with sixty tap handles and more beers by the can and bottle -- will also use the system to announce new beers on tap.
Huggard says his group designed Stout Street Social for the long haul, giving it a timeless ambiance and broad appeal. Noting that the Rialto Cafe is closing in on twenty years, he adds: "We envision Stout Street Social drawing guest thirty or forty years from now."