Chef Paul C. Reilly and his sister, Aileen V. Reilly, debuted Beast + Bottle at 719 East 17th Avenue in 2013, relying on Colorado farmers and ranchers to supply much of the meat and produce on their menu. Over the past eight years, the restaurant has become one of the best in Denver despite its tiny kitchen and dining room. But the building that Beast + Bottle occupies has been sold, and the new owner won't be extending its lease. As a result, the Reillys will be closing the place after dinner service on Saturday, June 5.
Paul and Aileen, along with partner JP Taylor Jr. (Aileen's husband), have earned a reputation not just for great food, but for carefully planned wine and cocktail lists and welcoming hospitality. The 54-seat dining room (including eleven seats at the bar) has been the scene of many celebrations, first dates, neighborhood gatherings and stops for drinks and appetizers. "The closing has everything to do with the sale of the building," Paul Reilly explains. "It has nothing to do with COVID."
In fact, after taking the winter off, Beast + Bottle had just reopened on April 16. He knew the sale of the building was imminent, Reilly says, but he wanted to open for spring to give regulars a little more time to enjoy the best seasonal ingredients before the address goes dark. "Takeout-only Christmas Eve dinner didn't seem like a good sendoff," he adds, referencing the last meals the restaurant served before reopening.
Lamb has been a big part of the offerings at Beast + Bottle over the past eight years, along with local pork, chicken and even rabbit. But beef was rarely on the menu, since Reilly brings in whole animals and breaks them down for various dishes; the kitchen just isn't big enough for an entire side of beef.
Reilly says that he and his partners and staff have run through many emotions while coming to terms with the upcoming closure, but he understands it's just business. The building was owned by Dome Development and managed by NAI Shames Makovsky. "They have been great to work with," he adds. "I hold no malice toward them; in fact, they were great about working with us to make the past year much easier."
Last year, Dome Development applied for a certificate of demolition eligibility for the property, which includes the vacant Tony P's at the corner of 17th and Clarkson Avenue. The certificate is often an early signal that a building owner has plans to sell, since it clears the possibility of historical status to give purchasers the opening to redevelop; the city granted that certificate, because the Tony P's property had been renovated beyond historical significance.
"I just want to say thank you so much to everyone who supported us, and to the farmers and ranchers," Reilly says. "We are absolutely looking for somewhere else."
But there's no guarantee that Beast + Bottle will emerge in a new home. "I'm very conscious of the fact that Beast + Bottle is that location with those people in that space," Reilly says of the restaurant, as well as its customers and staff. "We're not going to keep going just for the sake of it."
Any new incarnation of Beast + Bottle will have to have the right size, layout and sense of intimacy, and will also have to "match the ethos," as Reilly puts it.
Until the day that the Reillys and Taylor close up shop, you can still enjoy dinner indoors or on Beast + Bottle's expanded patio from 5 to 9:30 p.m. every Tuesday through Saturday. Call 303-623-3223 or visit the restaurant's website for details and reservations. The group's other restaurant, Coperta, at 400 East 20th Avenue, will remain open.
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