It took some time for partners Kimbal Musk, Hugo Matheson and Jen Lewin to cement a deal to bring to bring The Kitchen to Denver, after building the original Kitchen in Boulder eight years ago. But now, following nine months of planning and construction, they're just a week from opening their new place in the former Gumbo's space on the 16th Street Mall.
"We finished construction on time," Musk says, a remarkable feat considering the group just took over the address at the end of 2011 and the interior has gotten a complete overhaul.
This restaurant is much larger than any of the spaces The Kitchen has in Boulder, and it features lots of nooks and crannies plus a few distinct areas. A raw bar and main bar area will seat about forty people, adjoining a downstairs dining room that also accommodates about forty guests. Up a staircase to the right of the main entrance, community tables provide full views of the open kitchen, while window-lining counters make ideal places for solo diners to grab a snack while they work. Finally, there's a brick-walled area called the wine room, which provides bottle storage and features a more intimate, traditional dining setting. And three separate patios flank the sides of the building; one will provide outside dining, while the other two will be more casual bar-type sections.
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The space, designed by Musk's wife, Jen Lewin, has high ceilings, old molding, original brick walls and massive windows, along with functional, urban details that characterize its sibling restaurants -- as do the sparse decor and stark, white walls. "There's so much visual stimulation in the world; white is supposed to give you a feeling of 'ah,'" Sara Brito, who does public relations for the group, explains. "Plus, the white walls speak to modern, and metal speaks to industrial," she adds, noting that those details are "supposed to signify the fact that things are actually made here. And the molding and sconces speak to old. It's not totally sentimental and nostalgic -- it has that sense of timelessness through the juxtaposition of old and new. And they wanted to design a restaurant that wouldn't have to be renovated every ten years."
Matheson also reveals how much thought the owners put into details -- the whole outside of the building was brush and roller painted because he hates how spray paint looks, and a carpenter is building every table and bar rail in the place from reclaimed Douglass fir trees. That carpenter, in fact, was hard at work at the location last week, finishing up his contribution to the space.
If you're in the area, you can peep through the windows, though The Kitchen won't reveal the finished restaurant until next Tuesday. In the meantime, here's a first look at what you can expect to see.