Cafe Society

Mouthing Off

Get to the Points: Kal'line's owners aside, not everyone is enthusiastic about the promotional work being done by the Five Points Business Association and the Mayor's Office of Economic Development (MOED). "I'm going to tell you my truly and honest position," says George Brown, whose Brown Sugar's Burgers and Bones sits down the street from Kal'line's at 2415 Welton. "No, I don't think enough is being done and, no, I don't think what's been done has done much good."

Brown opened his burgers-and-ribs joint not long before Coors Field opened a few blocks away and light rail started running right past his door, and he's been waiting ever since for the neighborhood to start happening the way MOED told him it would. "I don't think the right players are involved over here, and I think there's a lot of split communication among the business owners," Brown adds. "The big problem, though, is we're not doing enough for ourselves." Brown hopes the business owners will band together and work on their own joint advertising and promotional campaigns. "It drives me crazy that people think the area still isn't safe," he says. "What can we do to make people realize that this is a clean, safe place?"

As far as the owners of the Cat Island Cafe, at 2334 Welton, are concerned, if Five Points businesses are quality operations, they will sell themselves. "We just intend to give people the best food from the Caribbean, and they will come here if that's what they're looking for," says Carlos Shepherd, a former resident of Trinidad and Tobago. Shepherd's partner is Randy Jones, who hails from the island their restaurant is named after.

This Cat Island opened last week in the space that once housed Sadie's Caribbean Cafe. (A victim of light-rail construction, Sadie's moved to 2240 Bruce Randolph Avenue and renamed itself Sadie's Kitchen.) "Since Caribbean food did well here before," Shepherd says, "we're hoping that we won't have too many problems attracting people here."

Points taken.
An open book: Two Denver Art Museum members, Richard Baum and Riddick Semple, won the contest to name the restaurant Kevin Taylor will open at the museum in October. Their entry: Palettes, chosen for its reference to art and its homonymy (it's a word--look it up) to "palate." Taylor, who liked the way the restaurants at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art did things, says it will be "modern, contemporary food in a modern, contemporary setting." Let Baum and Semple be the judges of that: Their prize was dinner for two at Palettes. But they'll have to pick their mealtime carefully--Palettes will be open only when the museum is.

After an eternity of driving past signs promising that Beluga, Club Velvet and Tapas would be Coming Soon! to 1523 Market Street (the old home of Al Fresco), I see that they've finally arrived. Beluga offers fifty types of vodka and what the owners (who also own the nearby Purple Martini, at 1328 15th Street) say is a "tremendous variety of caviar" in the basement, while Tapas does tapas (it's top-us, not tap-iss) and other Spanish food, and Club Velvet is a nightclub. Also finally, the second location of Bourbon Street Pizzabar & Grill, at 10158 South Parker Road in Parker, is fully operational. The humongous eatery has two floors, an outdoor patio, live jazz on the weekends and, of course, the same great pizza menu as the original location at 5117 South Yosemite Street. Lucky Parker.

And lucky Pearl, where the Budapest Bistro has taken over the 1585 South Pearl Street space formerly occupied by the Filly Bistro. Seven years ago, Budapest Bistro owners (and Hungarian natives) Anna and Rudy Helvig ran Csardas at Broadway and Hampden. Anna says they'll serve the same great goulash at this spot--which should be good news for Denver diners who still remember Csardas fondly.

Larry Herz, former owner of Carmine's on Penn (which is still doing big business at 92 South Pennsylvania Street), has another opening in his future, too: In October, Herz plans to open Uncle Sam's at 5946 South Holly Street in Greenwood Village, where Anastasia Vieux Carre let the good times roll until it closed abruptly and rolled right out of town. Uncle Sam's will be similar in concept to Carmine's: family-style dining with big platters of food for little prices. Only instead of Italian, Herz's chef will do pot roast, macaroni and cheese and meatloaf. In other words, warm, homey comfort food, all paired with American wines.

Chain, chain, chain: The scolding has already started over my August 28 review of the Cheesecake Factory. "If you have a better product and sell it for a reasonable price, you win," writes one Factory fan. "The local places should know this."

Which reminds me--wasn't there a Star Trek episode titled "The Trouble with Z-Tecas?" The locally owned Z-Teca Fresh Mexican Grill started out as one smallish location serving large-ish burritos at 550 Grant Street (it also started out with a different name, but that's another story), and now it's replicating faster than you can say "tribbles." In the last five months the "Z" has sold 100 franchises in 14 states. I wonder if some food writer in, say, Arizona, will pooh-pooh them for being a chain?

--Kyle Wagner

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Kyle Wagner
Contact: Kyle Wagner