When restaurants were ordered to close to in-house customers last March, some never reopened. Wendell's, a breakfast eatery at 3838 Tennyson Street, was one of them. But rather than completely scrapping the diner, co-founder Kade Gianinetti sold it to new owners, who reopened Wendell's the last week of September.
"We first looked at it on May 28, and we loved everything about it," says Casey Keller, who purchased Wendell's with her husband, Roy Benoit. They closed the deal in mid-August and have been working ever since to train new staff, plan the menu and relaunch during the pandemic.
Keller says she and Benoit have 35 years in the restaurant industry between the two of them — as servers, bartenders, managers and cooks — but this is their first leap into ownership. "Wendell's had a great menu, and we loved the vibe in the dining room; it's modern but still has a classic diner feel," she adds.
The kitchen is overseen by executive chef Brad Hong, and you'll also find either Keller or Benoit — or both — in the restaurant every day. Fans of the previous incarnation of Wendell's will be happy to know that the new owners have kept about 95 percent of last spring's menu, adding a couple of new dishes, working on the recipes for others and keeping some as is. "We added a Southern Fried Benedict with buttermilk fried chicken and a biscuit as the base, and it's been flying out of the kitchen," Keller notes, also noting that the buttermilk pancakes are "Denver's best" — a designation added to the menu by the original owners that she plans to uphold.
While the dining room has limited seating because of COVID-related restrictions, Wendell's has a shady, ivy-lined patio for breakfast, brunch and drinks outdoors. The full menu of food, beer, wine and cocktails is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Call 720-485-3901 or visit the Wendell's website for details.