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A mystery whets our appetite for Twelve

There's a mystery behind twelve, and it's not why the restaurant opening November 4 in the Ballpark neighborhood, at 2233 Larimer Street, refuses to use capital letters.

No, here's the mystery: Who's the man pretending to be the owner of twelve?

Yesterday, I'd just finished perusing twelve's press kit -- sighing over the lack of capitalization, but tempted by the seasonal, organic, modern American menu -- when I had to run off to a meeting. And as I passed the Spicy Pickle, I heard a fellow exiting the sandwich shop telling another man that he'd just come in from California to open his restaurant at 2233 Larimer.

Hearing the address, I stopped short, introduced myself, and said I'd just been looking at the press kit for his restaurant, but it hadn't answered one question: How had a venture rooted in California hit on Denver's Ballpark neighborhood? (It's my favorite neighborhoods in Denver, but it's not exactly Cherry Creek.) The man introduced himself -- I think he said his name was Ed, but it definitely wasn't Jeff Osaka, the name of the chef/owner in twelve's press kit -- and told me that his girlfriend had come up with the location. Figuring he must be a partner, I said I couldn't wait to see what he and Osaka had done to the space at the opening party next week. But then Ed said the restaurant was already open, and I could pop in any time.

How Mayberry, I thought, as I continued on my way. Imagine reading about a new restaurant and then running into its owner five minutes later, miles away from that restaurant.

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But this morning, Mayberry morphed into the Twilight Zone when I got a call from Fumi Kitahara, a PR rep in California who wanted to know if I'd received the press kit she'd sent for twelve. I'd just met one of the owners, I told her, adding that I hadn't realized the restaurant had opened earlier than the November 4 start date listed on her release.

The restaurant wasn't open, she replied. And Osaka is the sole owner, so far as she knows. As for why Osaka chose the Larimer Street site, he was looking for a space with both indoor and outdoor dining, she explains, and is "always interested in finding up-and-coming neighborhoods.”

So who's Ed? The mystery may be solved next week, when the real twelve opens, on schedule -- and the very real Osaka will be greeting his customers. -- Patricia Calhoun

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