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Frank Bonanno Is Closing Bones, Reopening With Hot Chicken

Bones is closing June 29 and will reopen as Lou's Food Bar.EXPAND
Bones is closing June 29 and will reopen as Lou's Food Bar.
Mark Antonation
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Back in late 2008, Frank Bonanno was busy opening Bones, the Asian-inspired eatery at 701 Grant Street that kicked off Denver's decade-and-going noodle craze. Bonanno's vision went well beyond faithful ramen re-creations, lifting humble bowls of broth to new levels with his now-famous lobster ramen, homages to traditional soba and udon, and outlandish noodle bowls loaded with such unusual ingredients as pork green chile and parmesan-spiked Alfredo.

But after ten years, the final noodles are being slurped this week. Bones will close after dinner service on Saturday, June 29.

Bonanno has no intention of relinquishing the prime restaurant real estate, though. Instead, he plans to bring Nashville-style hot chicken to the neighborhood by resurrecting the Lou's Food Bar name (from his restaurant that ran for seven years in Sunnyside before Bonanno sold that property in 2017), only with a tighter menu similar to that of the Lou's Hot | Naked counter inside Denver Milk Market, the chef's solo-effort food hall.

"The brand of Lou's and the hot chicken and sandwiches — it's something we're good at," Bonanno explains. He notes that the neighborhood demographic has changed and residents are looking for something "a little faster, a little less expensive" than Bones.

Chicken and sides like those served at Lou's inside Denver Milk Market will soon be available in the Governor's Park neighborhood.EXPAND
Chicken and sides like those served at Lou's inside Denver Milk Market will soon be available in the Governor's Park neighborhood.
Danielle Lirette

So fried-chicken sandwiches will be a big part of Lou's Food Bar when the space reopens on July 22, after a refresh and rebranding of the corner eatery. And there will also be chicken tenders, tots, mac and cheese and mashed potatoes, as well as salads, wraps and other lighter choices. Bonanno says he plans to introduce daily specials, too, possibly with a "back door" pickup option to make things easier for families placing larger orders.

Bonanno notes that lunches were never very busy at Bones, and were dropped last month. But the lower price point and quicker service model of Lou's will make it a good lunch option for the Governor's Park neighborhood, he says. New apartments and condos in the area, as well as several new restaurants, have added more foot traffic along Seventh Avenue, which the chef/restaurateur says he welcomes. Pointing to Ivy on Seventh (a breakfast spot that opened this spring) and the Carboy Winery project in the works where Govn'rs Park Restaurant & Tavern closed, he explains, "I'm excited to see them open, because it means vibrancy for the neighborhood."

Bonanno still has a firm grip on his corner of Seventh and Grant, with his original duo of Mizuna and Luca, plus the comfortable Vesper Lounge, which replaced the infamous Lancer Lounge in 2012. He'd says he'd like to connect the patios of the new Lou's with Vesper's patio, creating one big wraparound outdoor seating area, but that's still several months out.

On Saturday night, Bones will offer a trio of bao buns and a ramen bowl special, along with the regular menu — with Bonanno behind the counter for dinner service — before closing for the conversion. And then the neighborhood can look forward to Bonanno's hot-chicken recipe — created after extensive research (in the form of eating and cooking) in the dish's home town of Nashville.

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