From the start, this city knew chef Alex Seidel's Fruition was something special. When it came time to choose our Best New Restaurant for the 2007 Best of Denver, Fruition was the clear winner -- even though it had opened just a few months before, in the former home of Sean Kelly's Claire de Lune. Since then, Seidel's restaurant has just gotten better -- and soon, it will be better yet. On January 28 Fruition will close for a fast remodeling job; the new look will be unveiled on February 6. See also: In the Kitchen at Fruition
"We set out to do a small, simple restaurant, not to blaze any trails," Seidel told Westword in 2009, when Fruition was two years old and he'd just taken on Fruition Farms, a ten-acre artisanal sheep dairy and creamery, to insure he could get the kind of ingredients he wanted for his kitchen. "The positive reaction has been fantastic, but we never expected this kind of attention. I'm just a simple chef who cooks food."
A simple chef who continues to collect accolades from around the country and who won the Outstanding Professional Award from the Colorado Restaurant Association last spring. Four months later, he opened his second restaurant, Mercantile Dining & Provision, in Denver's renovated Union Station.
Mercantile brings his businesses full circle. "I always wanted to do a market in a restaurant," Seidel told us this summer. "It's the third element: farm, restaurant, market."
It took him three years to fine-tune the concept, and then do the work on only a slightly bigger shoestring than he'd used for Fruition. "The opportunity was too hard to pass up because of what it means for Denver," Seidel said. "We're growing as a community, and we're on a solid path."
And Mercantile has been doing a solid business since it opened in September. At 5,000 square feet, it's more than three times as large as the 1,400 square-foot Fruition -- and it's packed most nights.
Although the update won't affect the size of Fruition, it will definitely change the look. Designer Jeffery Elliott is heading the project, which will make the room more comfortable and sophisticated, but keep the neighborhood feel. "For Fruition, I wanted to design a timeless and understated space in this historic neighborhood that felt like it had always been there," Elliott says, adding that his goal is a simple interpretation of an early New England dining room.
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And if you were prescient enough to eat at Fruition on its first night, you have a treat in store: You'll be there when the restaurant reopens on February 6. "I thought it would be fun to invite all of the people who supported us on day one even though we could have invited thousands more that mean so much to us," Seidel said in announcing the plan. "We are so grateful for our incredible neighbors and our strong community."