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Christopher Cina jumps ship at Jax to spearhead a new charcoal steakhouse

Two months ago, Chris Cina exited his gig at Timberline Grill, a steak house at the Ameristar Casino in Black Hawk, to

set sail for Jax-Denver, where he was tapped as the seafooder's new chef de cuisine

. His first day on the Jax line was June 16; his last day was yesterday.

"I loved Jax, loved the people, the concept and the food, but it wasn't a good fit for me, and I wasn't going to be able to do them any good in the long run," says Cina. "It was never going to be my kitchen, and I didn't have the same passion for it that Sheila did," he adds, referring to Jax-Denver and -Boulder executive chef Sheila Lucero. "It's Sheila's baby, and while this would have been a good fit for me ten years ago, I'm 40 now, and too set in my ways."

And on his way to opening a new restaurant -- specifically Hideaway Steakhouse, a 6,000-square-foot, high-end charcoal meatery in Westminster, at 2345 West 112th Avenue, in a gutted space that formerly occupied Andale Mexican restaurant. "We're hoping to open in late fall or early winter, and I'm working on the concept and menu this week, but I know I want to do lump wood charcoal for the grill, because it adds another great dimension to beef," explains Cina, who's hoping to work with a rancher in South Dakota to source his steers.

Cina wants the menu to be a combination of old steakhouse staples -- pasta with red sauce and crab legs, for example -- and contemporary, composed dishes that, according to him, will be more chef-driven.

"I'm super excited about this project -- excited about a new opportunity and excited to settle down and dig in roots," says Cina. "I'm looking at this new restaurant as my future home, as a place to call my own that has stability."

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