When Lucien Reichert was a kid, his parents owned a restaurant in Connecticut, and long after the family moved to Denver, when Lucien was just five years old, he dreamed of someday following in their footsteps and opening his own place. So after graduating from college, he jumped into the kitchen and started learning about food prep — all with the goal of becoming a restaurateur.
Earlier this month, Reichert put pen to paper, taking over the space at 3350 East Colfax Avenue that most recently held the Humble Pie Store. There he plans to open a breakfast and lunch spot called Thirteen; he's targeting mid-to-late summer for the launch.
"I've spent the past few years learning the back of house and how to cook," the new business owner explains. "I started out at Chipotle. I only stayed for six or eight months, but I loved how everything was so dialed in and organized."
From there, he worked for nearly two years at Vert Kitchen, eventually gaining management experience and helping start the cafe's grab-and-go program. Then he moved on to a position as a line cook at The Plimoth, with a little time also spent at To the Wind Bistro. In between, he took a three-month culinary immersion class at Cook Street School of Culinary Arts. All of this was part of his plan to round out his experience in all aspects of the hospitality industry so that he'd have a better perspective of what it takes to run a restaurant.
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"I plan to hire a head chef," he points out, and says he's already tagged pastry chef Kelsie Berens, whom he met while the two worked at the Plimoth, to handle "the sweet side of breakfast."
The restaurant will be open for breakfast and lunch, with a short menu of breakfast favorites along with rotating seasonal specials, all with an emphasis on the freshest ingredients. "It won't be one of those menus with five different kind of eggs Benedict or forty different dishes," Reichert notes. "I want to bring a level of service and a level of cooking to a higher notch."
Space will be tight inside the former pie shop, which didn't have a full kitchen (since pies and other baked goods were made in an off-site commercial kitchen). Reichert says he's enlisted Unum Collaborative to handle the design and the addition of the kitchen. To make the whole thing happen, Mark Valente of Sanborn and Company represented the seller and Beth Steeler of JLL represented Reichert. The restaurant is located in the refurbished Galaxie auto body shop, which held Humble Pie, Cerebral Brewing and Chow Urban Grill when it first opened in late 2015. Since then, Chow has been replaced with an outpost of Machete Tequila & Tacos.
Now that the deal is done, Reichert says he's looking forward to serving the neighborhood where he also owns a home. "I know it sounds kind of corny, but I'm just excited as an entrepreneur to bring something to the community from someone who grew up in Denver," he adds.