A new restaurant in Littleton is set to pay homage to the area’s coal-mining history — with several dishes served as black as coal.
Fittingly named Coal Mine Kitchen, the restaurant, planned for a mid-July opening at 9719 West Coal Mine Avenue, will offer breakfast, brunch and lunch, with three menu items — the Coal Mine Benedict, Coal Bowl and Fried Chicken Waffle Coal — colored with an ingredient not used in most major kitchens: food-grade, organic, activated charcoal.
“The area has a rich history in coal mining,” says restaurant owner Liezyl Ribeiro. “So, we wanted to be sure to incorporate that.”
In small doses, activated charcoal can be beneficial for detoxing your digestive system, according to Ribeiro. To make things even more interesting, the black coloring is so intense that adding just a small amount of the charcoal to a recipe can turn an entire dish black, as will be visible in the restaurant's signature dishes.
Outside of the specialties, Coal Mine Kitchen will offer traditional breakfast fare such as pancakes, omelets and breakfast burritos, as well as customizable bowls, built on rice, potatoes and the like and topped with eggs, veggies, proteins and sauces for smothering.
Rounding out the menu is a “Bites” section,including tots, tacos, sweet-potato chips, breakfast and egg rolls. The Bites menu will also be packaged to go on weekend evenings for customers of Coal Mine Avenue Brewing Company, located next door to Coal Mine Kitchen.
“I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant, and I’ve always been a foodie,” Ribeiro says. “I mean, I grew up in Chicago, a city with some of the best food in the world.”
Ribeiro, who owns a marketing and event-planning company out of Chicago, adds that, despite working frequently in Denver, she never assumed this is where she’d eventually open up a restaurant. “The opportunity really just fell into our lap when we found the space,” Ribeiro explains. She and her partners quickly jumped on the chance to become one of the few stand-alone breakfast joints in west Littleton.
The restaurant, according to Ribeiro, will eventually offer more Asian-influenced menu items, inspired by her own Filipino culture and the Korean background of one of the eatery's partners. The team is also focused on using local products and ingredients in the food.
Heading up the kitchen will be executive chef Sasha Greenwald, who at 23 already has an impressive résumé, including working as a private chef, in food trucks and even at Disney World, where preparing 800 meals in a day was the norm. While excited for the activated charcoal in the food, Greenwald is also proud of the restaurant’s use of fresh, local ingredients, and plans to keep the menu a living document, incorporating constant change. “I like to keep a workable kitchen,” says Greenwald. “It forces you to keep things fresh.”
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Greenwald says highlights of the menu include the coal-infused specialties (specifically the Coal Bowl, with a rice-grits base, cheese, eggs and other ingredients) and the fried chicken, which the chef says is tossed in a “fan-frickin-tastic” Korean sauce.
Beyond great dishes, Ribeiro and her team hope to use Coal Mine Kitchen — which she expects to quickly franchise should this one prove successful — to offer a “100 percent awesome experience.”
“We want everyone to have a great takeaway,” the new restaurateur notes. “Everything here is going to be very experiential.”
And if eating black waffles isn’t experiential, what is?