Since the beginning of the pandemic, Cafe Aion chef/owner Dakota Soifer has been putting much of his effort into the takeout side of his business. Last summer he launched two ghost kitchens out of the little Spanish eatery on Boulder's University Hill. Brasserie Boulder gave takeout and delivery customers traditional French options designed to travel well, while Lil Bub's Family Meal offered large portions of lasagna, cassoulet, paella and other comforting eats.
Soifer is now ready to reopen Cafe Aion's dining room after shutting down in-house dining over the winter, but there will be a twist. Brasserie Boulder has been so successful as a to-go concept that the restaurant will initially reopen with its French menu, plus a few Cafe Aion favorites. Guests will be able to make reservations for dinner Wednesday through Sunday beginning Wednesday, March 3.
Soifer says that customers have loved Brasserie Boulder's menu of coq au vin, duck confit, steak frites and other familiar French fare, helping bring in much-needed revenue during the ups and downs of the pandemic. "I wanted to try something new that wouldn't have even crossed my mind during normal circumstances," the chef notes. "The French dishes have been very successful for us for takeout, but that said, we're really looking forward to plating food and seating customers again."
Cafe Aion's paellas have also remained popular over the past year, so the Brasserie Boulder pop-up will include four paella options, as well as tapas and the restaurant's popular sangria.
Soifer opened Cafe Aion on the Hill eleven years ago, and he says the restaurant has remained somewhat isolated from the rest of Boulder's fine-dining scene, which has exploded along the Pearl Street Mall and in other parts of downtown. But his restaurant's proximity to the University of Colorado has allowed him to tap into a customer base of professors and other faculty members, guest lecturers and Boulder residents attending events at nearby venues. "We've certainly found our niche here over the years," he explains.
Although much of that university-based business slowed to a trickle during the pandemic, Soifer was able to expand his audience through the ghost kitchens, finding new customers who otherwise might not have come to the Hill for dinner.
He's rewarding those new customers with the Brasserie Boulder pop-up while also welcoming back regulars who may be ready to get out of the house and back into restaurants with limited capacity. Paella is still a great option, since it takes 45 minutes to prepare at Cafe Aion, offering relaxed pacing while guests enjoy wine and appetizers before the pan hits the table.
Cafe Aion is located at 1235 Pennsylvania Avenue in Boulder and is offering reservations from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, with Sunday brunch also coming soon. Call 303-993-8131 for details and book a table online.
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