Just got off the horn with Chad Clevenger, chef/owner of Mel's Bar and Grill, who called to say he was done -- finito -- with the restaurant that he took over from Mel Master in July 2008. "I'm pretty much over Mel's, over making Cobb salads and salmon for old people that don't want to try anything new, and over the location," Clevenger told me, admitting, too, that, even now, guests still come in looking for Master, who moved back east with his wife Janie right around the time Clevenger leased the restaurant.
"In retrospect, I never should have kept the Mel's name and I should have insisted on doing food that I wanted to do, but Mel told me that I needed to continue to do his food, so I did, and now I want to do mine, and that means moving out and moving on," said Clevenger, who, as you may recall, just erected a pig cart, aptly called the Porker, at 17th and California, which will continue to snort for the long haul.
Mel's, on the other hoof, will close after service this Saturday, and according to Clevenger, there won't be any fanfare. "We'll finish out the weekend, but I won't be doing any specials on Saturday night," said Clevenger. "I'll throw a little party for my staff -- they deserve it -- and that'll be it."
But that doesn't mean that Clevenger is done with restaurants. "I'm definitely looking for investors, and I'd love to do a restaurant downtown where I can cook good food -- my food -- things like halibut cheeks and pork cheeks and whatever the hell else I feel like cooking," he said. "I want to show people what I've got."
We'll be waiting.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.