I think we all knew that it was only a matter of time before Sparrow Market Café (701 Grant Street) tanked, since Sparrow restaurant had already flown the coop.
And guess who's picked up the space? Frank Bonanno, who already owns the restaurants on either side of the space: Mizuna at 225 East Seventh Avenue and Luca d’Italia at 711 Grant. This will essentially allow Bonanno to jump from back door to back door at three of his four properties; Osteria Marco, on Larimer Square, takes him about ten minutes to reach, depending on how fast he drives.
I got Bonanno on the phone this afternoon, just a few minutes ahead of the start of service at his three existing restaurants, to talk about the new joint, and asked how he felt having one little corner of Denver all to himself.
“It’s just convenience, you know?” he said, adding that he’s already got office space above and two houses within spitting distance. “I’ve tried to buy that coffee shop every year it came up to do Mizuna Deli.”
But the new place won’t be a deli, it’s going to be a noodle bar—sorta. Called Bones, it’ll offer an Asian-influenced board focusing on daily noodle bowls and then, essentially, whatever Bonanno and his cooks feel like throwing together on any given night. “The menu’s gonna change daily,” he said. “But there’ll always be four noodle bowls. Egg rolls, maybe shrimp toasts. French onion soup. There’s definitely gonna be bone marrow. And you know, maybe I’ll do escargots with parsley and garlic butter. I don’t know. We can do whatever. That’s why I didn’t give it an Asian name.”
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Basically, Bonanno and his guys will be doing cook food—the kind of stuff that cooks and chefs make for themselves or for their staff when everyone wants a snack, the food white jackets go looking for at the end of the night. He’s going to be buying whole animals from local farmers, “braising off whole, huge cuts of meat,” and cooking nose-to-tail for his noodle bowls. He told me that he’s already got the wine and sake lists set (“We’ve been doing tastings… fuck, like three times a week? I don’t know”), was looking at doing an industry night when he’d stay open late and make treats for the restaurant crews coming in (free bone marrow, is his thought), and is already thinking about the next patio season, when he can throw some picnic tables out on the sidewalk and serve people community-style.
“And soft-serve ice cream!” he bellowed. “I just bought the machine, so soft-serve ice cream for dessert.”
Bones will be kind of like Momofuko in the East Village—either Monofuko Noodle or Ssam, take your pick. Small, loud, (hopefully) crowded. There will be about twelve seats in the whole place: eight at the bar, a couple deuces crammed onto the floor. “Yeah, it’s tiny,” he said. “But it’s just fun, man! You know, just lots of fun. Why would I want to follow one huge, successful restaurant [Osteria Marco] with another? So instead, I’m gonna open a small, fun one that’s gonna lose money every night.”
Sounds like the best business plan I’ve heard in a long time. And I can’t wait to see how it works out for him. -- Jason Sheehan