There's big news coming out of Cherry Creek, with the announcement that Elway's is expanding to a second location inside the new Ritz-Carlton, Denver, which is currently under construction at 1881 Curtis Street.
And I predicted this almost a year ago, in the April 20, 2006 Bite Me column where I wrote that Elway's had hired former Mel's exec chef Tyler Wiard. Before bringing Wiard on board, Elway's co-owner Tim Schmidt and floorman extraordinaire Tom Moxcey had made the decision to bump current chef, Charles Schwerd, to an exec's position.
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At the time, this struck me as rather strange. There was no reason to have an exec in place, working above an already talented chef de cuisine like Wiard, unless Elway's was looking in the direction of expanding. Otherwise, the move made no sense -- and I had enough faith in both Schmidt and Moxcey that I knew they weren't going to go and do something dumb just to put another name on their payroll.
In any event, no one at Elway's was willing to talk about expansion back then. But ever since developer Charlie Biederman (who owns the Curtis Street building) brought a bunch of Ritz-Carlton execs to Elway's for a meal during their negotiations, a "signature restaurant" deal has been in the works. The R-C suits apparently really liked the joint. Biederman really wanted to do business with the Ritz.
And now, here we are: the big announcement has been made, the paperwork has all been signed (paperwork that neglects to give either Schmidt or Big John himself an ownership stake, but rather allows them to sell a one-time license on the Elway's concept and collect a percentage of the sales on the back end) and a rough opening date has been fixed: August 2007.
"That's the plan," says Audrey Strong of the Ritz-Carlton, and at this point, it looks as though the new Elway's will be opening in tandem with the $75 million hotel. "We couldn't open the hotel without a restaurant in it. That wouldn't be cool." -- Jason Sheehan