When developers Eric Kramer and Randy Nichols approached Oak at Fourteenth, Acorn and Brider owners Bryan Dayton and Steve Redzikowski about opening a restaurant in PearlWest, the project at 1023 Walnut Street that sits on the old site of the Daily Camera building, Dayton's first instinct was to pass. Then he saw the space, located on the top floor. "It has unobstructed views of the Flatirons," he says. "I just couldn't walk away from it."
He and Redzikowski toyed with moving Oak to a new home before eventually deciding that wasn't worth the effort. "I didn't make sense," Dayton says. "We just re-signed a ten-year lease. We decided to keep Oak where it is."
But Redzikowski also decided that he couldn't take on a new restaurant project. He would help with kitchen design and tastings during the interview process for a head chef, he agreed, but he was leaving it to Dayton to go forth on his own with building out, conceptualizing and operating the PearlWest space, which is still unnamed. "Steve was like, 'I don’t know if I’ve got it in me to do another full-blown restaurant,'" Dayton recalls. "I get it, because sometimes I’m like, this will kill me. But in a way, the front [of the house] is more forgiving. If you make mistakes with food, it's harder to come back. I understand Steve’s dedication to that and the projects we have at this point. It's amazing what that brings to the table."
Dayton has been searching for someone to the head the kitchen, and while he says he's getting close, he hasn't finalized a pick yet. "I'm trying to find the right match, an impactful chef that’s going to be a big part of the Boulder and Colorado community." And because he hasn't nailed that person down yet, he also hasn't finalized the details of the concept, which means he's not divulging what kind of food he'll be serving. All he'll promise on that front is that we'll see something different from Oak at Fourteenth, because "you can’t open the same concept four blocks away."
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The feel and service philosophy, however, will echo Dayton's other restaurants, which, he promises, will continue to function as usual as this new space comes online.
Dayton also says this may not be the end of his expansion plans: "As I become more of a restaurateur, I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw other concepts coming online. But Oak, Acorn and Brider are my babies. They're big projects. We have an amazing staff that works hard at those places every day."
The PearlWest restaurant is slated to open in summer of next year; Dayton is optimistically shooting for June 2017.