And now Moore is heading back to high school -- or at least to his obsession with Mexican food, for which Juanita's was known. On Saturday, October 6, he'll close Delite, the New American small plates and cocktail lounge next door to Deluxe and reopen it on Tuesday, October 9 as Juanita's, complete with the original neon sign from the Uptown location suspended over the exterior.
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"Delite was doing fine, but I'm ready for a change," admits Moore, "and my first love, thanks to Juanita's, is Mexican food, and since I'm a sign collector," he adds, "the owners gave me the Juanita's sign a good fifteen years ago, which is currently on the wall at Delite, and when I was toying with names, I suddenly looked at the sign and it seemed like a slam dunk."
But while the the name is the same, the food, notes Moore, will be significantly different. "This isn't going to be a combo plate, beans-and-rice kind of place," he says. "I'm doing Mexican small plates -- ceviche tostados, queso fundito, tortilla soup, maybe a posole and five different tacos," including, he tells me, a fried fish taco, a barbacoa taco and a vegetarian taco with squash and poblano chiles. And he's making his corn tortillas on site, in the small, open kitchen that services both restaurants.
And just in case you're wondering, he's not entering into the city's heated green chile wars. "I'm staying away from it," declares Moore, explaining that "an entire restaurant can be judged on its green chile, and that's not what I want this restaurant to be. Denverites are "crazy about green chile," he adds, "and while I get that, I want to do things differently."
Still, he'll pour margaritas, make Moscow mules with tequila and he's contemplating, too, adding non-alcoholic aguas frescas and horchata. And, yes, you can get your Mexi-Coke.
Moore will use the Sunday and Monday when Delite and Deluxe are already closed for service, to complete the redo, which is already taking shape. "We've started painting the walls already, and the space will have new stools and reproductions and originals of Mexican movie posters," reveals Moore, who says the result will be "fun and funky" with a color scheme that favors burnt orange and materials that will include reclaimed barn wood.
He'll open on Tuesday, October 9 for dinner, and the hours will remain the same: Tuesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to close. Moore also plans to keep the kitchen open until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and he'll have a happy hour, too, with a drink special and nightly food discounts. "We're still working that out, but we might have tortas on special, or do $1 off our tacos. A lot of this is still evolving, but we'll definitely have a cool happy hour," says Moore.