The Squeaky Bean closed last summer after eight years in two separate locations, first at 3301 Tejon Street in LoHi and then at 1500 Wynkoop Street downtown. The original location is now the home of Señor Bear — and now we know what's moving into the corner spot on Wynkoop. Ryan Fletter, who took over as owner of Barolo Grill three years ago, will open Chow Morso Osteria there this summer.
Fletter and Barolo Grill chef Darrel Truett have already had practice serving Italian street food and hand-rolled pasta at Avanti Food & Beverage, where they opened a counter-service version of Chow Morso in 2016. With a two-year lease set to expire in October, the team was on the lookout for a permanent address where they could expand Chow Morso into a casual, osteria-style Italian eatery that would fall somewhere between the white-tablecloth elegance of Barolo and the quick-eats window at Avanti.
"We've realized our maximum capacity inside that shipping container space," Fletter says of the Chow Morso at Avanti. "We couldn't chop one more mushroom or add one more menu item."
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With the new space, Truett will be able to expand the piadini and salad menu at lunch and also add favorites for dinner — like cacio e pepe, pasta puttanesca, more desserts, fresh gelato and a "value-priced" wine list, along with traditional and modern Italian cocktails, Fletter explains.
The layout of the Squeaky Bean, with a large bar up front, an open kitchen and an intimate dining room, fits Fletter's goals for the space, so he won't be changing too much other than putting in a new bar top and changing the color scheme and decor. "The bar will be a good landing place for someone looking for a quick meal," he explains. "And overall the idea is to inject a more casual eating space into the area."
Fletter began searching for a brick-and-mortar space for Chow Morso last fall, and quickly landed on the Squeaky Bean corner because he knew the owners of the building, Bob and Suzanne Fanch. "They also own Devil's Thumb Ranch up in Tabernash," he notes.
The new Chow Morso Osteria is expected to open this summer, overlapping with Chow Morso at Avanti until the lease there runs out at the end of October.