The glassware is being polished; the staff is running mock services on repeat; the kitchen is firing up familiar dishes while perfecting new creations; and at the center of the excitement, chef Jennifer Jasinski gives a pep talk in a staff huddle ahead of a sold-out opening night at Bistro Vendôme’s highly anticipated new location at 2267 Kearney Street in Park Hill.
The eatery, which was a staple in Larimer Square for nearly two decades, closed its longtime location after a final New Year's Day brunch, as its former home is set to undergo major renovations. Now it's bringing French fare to the space that operated as neighborhood restaurant Tables for seventeen years.
With decades of combined experience and four very successful restaurants, Jasinski, partner Beth Gruitch and the rest of the team behind the Crafted Concepts restaurant group is well-equipped to complete a restaurant reopening and rebirth. Culinary director Tim Kuklinski asserts that doing it the weekend before Valentine’s Day, a traditionally busy date for the restaurant industry, does not make him nervous. “I’m not afraid of Valentine’s Day,” says Kuklinski. “We have five days! Five days in a restaurant full of professionals, and it’s gonna be fantastic. We’ve learned a lot of things about all of the little idiosyncrasies of the restaurant and where things are going to go."
When doors open for its first official service on Saturday, February 11, patrons will experience firsthand the fresh and modern decor adorning the renovated 65-person main dining room and bar. “I think if you have the same outfit, and you may love that outfit, but you’ve had it for twenty years, then maybe you just want a new outfit,” explains Jasinski of Bistro Vendôme’s refreshed look. “If we would’ve stayed [in Larimer Square], we probably would’ve done some pretty big work to that place, too; it needed some work. Also, times have changed, and you just kinda want to update your look a little.”
“Impactful choices," Kuklinski continues. "The lighting’s impactful, the wallpaper’s impactful, the colors are impactful.”
While the decor may be the most obvious update for Bistro Vendôme, the menu also received a revitalization led by executive chef Jeremy Wolgamott. Dishes like steak frites and coq au vin are prepared classically, while other French staples such as allium soup, bourride (a fish stew) and duck a l’orange have a reimagined spin.
“I think that French cuisine doesn’t have to be hoity-toity,” notes Kuklinski. “It can be approachable, fun and personable. It can be for everyone. It’s new. It’s constantly evolving.”
Jasinski adds, “Chef Jeremy’s style is really nice, clean and straightforward food. He lets the ingredients shine and doesn’t complicate his plate. Tim and I are both chefs, but Jeremy is at the helm, and he’s doing a great job.”
One unexpected menu idea incorporated by Wolgamott is the addition of the kids' menu, dubbed Oui Chefs. “It was [Jeremy's] idea,” says Jasinski. “Oui Chefs, but also ‘wee’ — I just love that!”
Family was at the forefront of Kuklinski’s excitement about moving into Park Hill. “Personally, I’ve always wanted to be in this neighborhood,” he says. “I’ve always had this dream of raising my kids and having them in this space and being a part of this with me. My wife is also working in the kitchen, and I feel like this is a great spot to do that.”
While relocating a twenty-year-old restaurant to an entirely new neighborhood is no easy task, Jasinski and Kuklinski already feel the good vibes — evidenced by the sold-out reservations for opening night. “We love this neighborhood, and felt like it was underserved,” Jasinski notes. “Tables was a successful restaurant here for years, and they were well loved in the community — as opposed to us going into some place that had been a revolving door of restaurants and maybe didn’t have the good well wishes and that good feeling and vibes behind it. When we found [the space], it clicked into place and it seemed right. When things fall into place and seem right, hopefully they are.”
Confident in their team, Jasinski and Kuklinski beam with excitement for what’s to come at the new Bistro Vendôme. “I think people a lot of time give me credit for all the food,” reflects Jasinski. “But we have chef Jeremy in place and Brian [Smith] with the team here. We have a great staff of employees.”
Embracing the energy and good juju for this next chapter, Kuklinski concludes, “We can’t do this without great people. We have great people working here, and I'm excited to meet a whole neighborhood of great people who will come in and be our regulars and become friends.”
Bistro Vendôme is located at 2267 Kearney Street. Beginning February 11, it will be open from 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; beginning February 18, brunch will also be served from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit bistrovendome.com.