"We're moving Phat Thai -- we just don't have a forwarding address yet," quips Mark Fischer, the owner-executive chef of Phat Thai in Cheery Creek, a restaurant that Fischer describes as "a curious new breed of southeast Asian eatery, offering imaginative food and tasty drinks inspired by travels to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and beyond."
But after dinner service on Saturday, June 15, Fischer will shutter the Cherry Creek location, relocate it elsewhere in Denver and reopen the current space as Harman's Eat and Drink -- named after Edwin P. Harman, a man whose name Fischer came across while digging through Cherry Creek archives.
Closing Phat Thai, explains Fischer, who still owns the original location in Carbondale, is a result of square footage. "This just isn't intimate enough for the kind of food and service that we want to do," he says. "The place is too big during the week, and too small on the weekends. We changed the menu to drive more traffic during the week, but in doing that, we also diluted the menu a bit more than we would have liked, and my feeling is that the food might be too niche for 200 seats, and we don't want to be a P.F. Chang's." The Phat Thai menu, he adds, is better served in a "smaller footprint."
Its replacement, reveals Fischer, will largely mimic the Pullman, his restaurant in Glenwood Springs that Esquire magazine named one of the top new restaurants in America in 2011. "We'll use the Pullman menu and business model as a template for Harman's, because that appeals to a broader audience," says Fischer.
But that doesn't mean that he -- or his chef, John Little -- will subdue their food. "The menu is focused on seasonal American cuisine, and it's approachable without compromising our approach to cooking -- it's not dumbed down or any less chef-y; it's cooked, prepared and served with integrity," says Fischer, adding that Little, who opened the Pullman, is one hell of a "badass chef."
The transition from Phat Thai to Harman's, says Fischer, will be quick -- just a ten-day transition. "Working through the menu will take some time, but the interior changes are mostly cosmetic," he says. "The plan is to slap on some fresh paint and open up the interior, so we're anticipating a quick turnaround and hope to be open the last weekend in June," predicts Fischer.
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When it reopens, Harman's will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week, along with Sunday brunch and a late-night happy hour. "We want to create some good energy in Cherry Creek after 9 p.m," says Fischer, adding that Harman's will also emphasize a "great wine and craft-based beer and cocktail program."