The crew at Coohills is taking the week off to soak up the summer sun -- the restaurant will reopen on Monday, July 8 -- and given that chef-owner Tom Coohill has spent the last few weeks digging in dirt and expanding his patio, he deserves it. "We've all been working really hard, and I figured that since it's a slow week because of the holiday, we may as well give all the managers a paid vacation to rejuvenate," says Coohill, whose newly stretched patio not only breezes with tubs of newly planted herbs but also boasts lots of new lounge furniture, which makes it all too easy to linger.
"The patio has been going gangbusters, and we wanted to add more soft seating so guests could just relax, and we go through a ton of herbs at the restaurant, so it made sense for us to grow our own, plus it makes it smell incredibly good out here," says Coohill, who planted everything from epizote and lavender, to lemon balm and chamomile, all of which will be used in his dishes, as well as in teas and cocktails.
And speaking of cocktails, Coohill recently hired Noah Heaney, formerly of Harold's and the Bayonet Room, in Longmont, to elevate the bar program. "Noah is so personable and extremely enthusiastic about coming in and finding ways to raise the level of our bar program. It seems a natural fit to have him on at Coohills -- we feel lucky that he's on our team," says Coohill, noting, too, that Heaney has just created a new cocktail list. "He's added several unique cocktails to the menu that focus on fresh ingredients, some from our own herb gardens, but he's also focusing on the classics, like daiquiris, the old-fashioned, martinis, the sazerac and the vesper, all of which will be a great complement to the new bar menu that the kitchen will roll out in early July."
And that's not all that Coohill is up to: Beginning on Tuesday, July 16, his namesake restaurant will host the second annual Beats on the Creek, a summer concert series that unfolds on the bridge overlooking Cherry Creek, just beyond the patio. "People love being outside in the summer, and the bridge is a great stage for live music and dancing, plus it's just a cool community event that gives back a deserving cause," says Coohill, adding that this year's proceeds from Beats on the Creek benefit Global Livingston Institute, a nonprofit that sends community leaders and at-risk students to impoverished East African with the intent of providing a more secure future for Africa.
Beats on the Creek opens with Under a Blood Red Sky: The U2 Tribute, and while admission is free to the event, drinks and food are sold separately. "We'll have three bars on the bridge serving margaritas and frozen drinks, and I'm hauling out the grill," says Coohill.
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The band lineup also includes Something Underground and Tracksuit Wedding (July 23); the Hazel Miller Band (July 30) and Oakhurst on August 6.