Bite Me

You know things are getting ugly when Charo, of all people, is threatening to drag your ass into court. The cuchi-cuchi girl is shaking all kinds of things at Bart DeLorenzo and his Spanish-themed nightclub/steakhouse empire, Sevilla Entertainment, which had booked her show into Sevilla Las Vegas, the second in what DeLorenzo had hoped would become a chain of Sevillas.

But Sevilla Entertainment filed for bankruptcy protection last month in Las Vegas in an attempt to keep the wolves (and Charo) from the door. (The flamboyant entertainer claims she's owed $80,000.) Back home in Denver, the original Sevilla was "doing very well," according to executive director Susan Garcia, until the bankruptcy story hit the local press. "We've been having trouble ever since," she says. "We're struggling because people think we're closed, but we're very much open, very much alive and trying to regain our business. All we want to do is have a good business."

DeLorenzo plans to keep Denver's Sevilla open and earning during the reorganization, and his landlords at the Denver Pavilions would like to see that, too. Pavilions general manager Susan Cantwell says that DeLorenzo and Pavilions reps met in Vegas soon after the filing, and now they're staying in touch to make sure that everything (like rent payments) flows smoothly.

"We know it was a viable operation," Cantwell explains. "And we hope it will continue to be a viable operation in the future."

In other Pavilions news, Jon Field of Intersport Racing, the Field Development Group and owner of the Banana Joe's chain has bailed out on his 35,000 square feet of eater-tainment hell, Margarita Mama's and Banana Joe's Island Party. He'd been locked in disputes with contractors, Pavilions management and -- one would hope -- his conscience since the day the doors opened on his combination Key West-Caribbean theme restaurant/dance club/sports bar/cocktail lounge/carnival midway. Field had stopped paying rent on the space months ago, and the legal bills were mounting when the Field group finally decided it would be better for all concerned if a simple termination of the lease could be negotiated.

And that's the way things went down in late April. No fireworks, no tantrums, and with everything "done in a semi-organized way," according to Cantwell. But God never closes the door of a giant tequila-and-Skee-Ball-themed restaurant without opening a window, right? Enter local club kingpin Curt Sims, who swooped in and made an offer on the second- and third-floor space, which comes complete with dozens of televisions and a nearly new light-and-sound system. Sims hasn't said what he plans to do with it, but three years ago his F-Stop (1819 Wazee Street) and Sevilla, then located in the Icehouse (1801 Wynkoop Street), made LoDo the town's unexpected hip-hop headquarters -- and don't think the neighbors didn't notice or complain. F-Stop closed in November 2000; Sevilla moved to the Pavilions three months later.

Sevilla's had some success booking hip-hop, as well as salsa, into its new home. Maybe the time's right for Sims to revive his F-Stop lineup, too.

Then again, Sims is pretty busy these days, since the massively overdue Cielo (since last August) is finally scheduled to open this month in the former home of the Denver Buffalo Company (1109 Lincoln Street). But Sims has a ringer on his Cielo team: Marco Colantonio, who left the floor of Tamayo for an early piece of Vega (410 East Seventh Avenue). After Colantonio departed from Vega, he signed on with Sims and his wife, Pam Savage, as a consultant to help get Cielo going. But Colantonio was so taken with both the concept (formal but not fussy Mexican) and the food (norteño cuisine with a slightly modern feel) as envisioned by Savage and executed by chef Marcela Guerrero that he came on, he says, as "an operator." That means he's been overseeing construction, assembling a staff, tasting and retasting the menu, and will be working the floor once the doors open on June 24.

And now, with Sims's plate loading up, there's been some discussion about bringing Colantonio more fully into the fold. "Curt's got lots of stuff going on," Colantonio says, laughing at this bit of poetic understatement. "Ideally, Curt would like me to take a partnership interest. It's something we talk about often. But this is three restaurants in less than three years now. And I'm one of those people -- I want to prove to you what I can do first. I love the property. I want to put as much as I can into it. Three months from now? Then maybe we'll talk."

Actually, it's more like four restaurants in three years, because Colantonio is also showing off his stuff at Sims's and Savage's eighteen-month-old Lime (1424 Larimer Street). Savage had come up with the original menus for both Lime and Cielo; Colantonio wants to bring a measure of Cielo's more ambitious cuisine to Lime's more down-home lineup -- and Guerrero's temporarily watching the line at Lime in order to do it. "I want to expand the menu, improve the food," Colantanio says. "I'd just like to see more food there. More of an opportunity to dine."

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Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan