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Four Friends Kitchen Brings Southern Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch to Stapleton

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When the four friends behind Four Friends Kitchen — Kurt and Sarah Pletcher and Genefer and Tim Thornton — broke ground on their new breakfast and lunch eatery last July, it was a rare sight in a planned neighborhood: independent restaurateurs building their own spot.  Rather than leasing a space in an existing shopping center or waiting for developers to build another one, they found an open parcel of land and constructed a new restaurant from the ground up. The progress has been surprisingly speedy; while seasoned veterans fight for contractor time and open refurbished restaurants months behind schedule in historic buildings and craft brewery build-outs seem to stretch into year-plus waits, Four Friends Kitchen is ready to open its doors in Stapleton tomorrow.

The partners are all Stapleton residents who noticed a lack of good breakfast and brunch options in the neighborhood and decided to fill the gap themselves rather than watch neighbors  drive to other areas or turn to chain restaurants.

"It's been about two years from the planning stages," says Genefer Thornton, who comes from an Idaho restaurant family but whose Georgia grandmother is the inspiration for the menu's Southern accent. That menu will be executed by chef Larry Shore and includes Southwestern as well as Southern touches. Grits, from Gala Farms in Georgia, are cooked overnight to achieve maximum creaminess and form the basis for three grits dishes: a hearty bowl with poached eggs, fried chicken and collard greens; a more Colorado-style serving with granola and fruit; and a sweet dish with bananas, strawberries and bourbon-praline pecan sauce. The kitchen will also turn out housemade breads and biscuits and smoked meats that appear in eggs Benedict, breakfast hash and a breakfast po' boy with smoked pork belly.

Lunch includes a pimento-cheese burger that Thornton swears will win over even non-Southerners, shrimp and grits, a chicken and savory waffle sandwich, and a green-chile chicken cobbler. Brunch will be served from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m on Saturday and Sunday, featuring the best of the breakfast and lunch menus.

Four Friends Kitchen features a full bar and a roof-top patio — the first in Stapleton — that will be ready for warm-weather lingering. Given the neighborhood, though, both the dining room and menu, with a well-rounded "Little Britches" section, were built for families. The space has an open floor plan, easily configurable seating and an Etch-a-Sketch wall where kids can display their creations. "We're family, casual — because that's what Stapleton is," Thornton explains.

Four Friends Kitchen will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. In advance of tomorrow's opening, we sent photographerDanielle Lirette to take these appetite-whetting photograpahs of Four Friends.

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