Emogene was open barely six months -- and the super-chic space with the hot Belmar address wasn't just closed, wasn't just lights-out-and-locked-up, but was padlocked. I called Leigh Sullivan to see what was up, and she pretty much started shouting "No comment" and "Off the record" before I'd even said my name. So I tracked down Belmar marketing director Eliza Prall, who said the separation was an amicable split, with the Sullivan Restaurant Group making the decision to close and the two parties then hashing out a fast settlement over the lease.
When I got Jim Sullivan on the blower, he described the settlement as "ample," then admitted that his group left Belmar with "our tail between our legs, and headed back to Cherry Creek." He was even willing to admit that some of the mistakes -- in concept, in pricing -- were his. "We were losing a ton of money there," he said simply. "I just wanted to stop the bleeding."
And back in Cherry Creek, things seem to be business as usual at the original Emogene (2415 East Second Avenue), though the staff is all new, and Ocean next door anticipates bringing in the green in fine holiday spirit. But the new Nine75 North in the northern burbs and the much-talked-about Oscar's Steaks and Cigars going into the Diamond Cabaret downtown have both overshot their planned October opening dates. Leigh says that Nine75 North is still anywhere from 90 to 120 days out; Jim says Oscar's will be ready for its grand opening soon. As for Wings and Wraps, the Caribbean-themed A-frame opened earlier this year at 4736 East Colfax Avenue? That's been shuttered, too.
In the midst of all this, the Sullivan group has brought in a VP of ops to keep everything cool in the corral. Randy Caparoso -- ex of Roy Yamaguchi's corporate office, where he was wine buyer for the Roy's chain -- is now in place, helping out with the top-tier stuff.
Helluva way to start a new job, eh, Randy?
Leftovers: More news comes from another Leigh -- Jones, former co-owner of Brasserie Rouge and new owner of the Dish, in the Painted Bench space (400 East 20th Avenue). She reports that the Dish's kitchen is now under the command of Chris Doherty, the old sous chef at Rouge, who also worked at Duo, Swimclub32 and Parisi. Doherty is overseeing things at the next-door Horseshoe Lounge, as well. Back in northwest Denver, Cafe Mondo (1849 West 34th Avenue) has ditched dinner service, pulling back to focus on lunch. But its bakery cases are stuffed for the holidays, and orders are being taken for Christmas specialties.
RIP Sapa, the great nouvelle Vietnamese place I reviewed over a year ago ("Green Light," July 28, 2005). It's gone dark, but fortunately, Indochine -- owned by the same folks, Yume Tran and Jeff Nghiem -- is still open for business at 10920 South Parker Road in Parker. In October, Adrienne Grant denied that Denver's Sambuca (1320 15th Street) was even thinking about closing. But last week the word came down: The place will shut its doors on January 1, after a big New Year's Eve bash. There's still entertainment scheduled seven nights a week, though, right up until the final party on December 31.
And the location won't be dark long. Greg Goldfogel of Ristorante Amore (2355 East Third Avenue) has already made his move and is looking at a February 1 opening date for brio. Under chef Joe Garcia, Goldfogel's new place will be doing contemporary Italian, while former chef (and current sous) Anthony Sartorio holds down the fort at Amore -- probably until June 2007, when Goldfogel's lease is up in Cherry Creek.
Out in Aurora, my favorite Caribbean restaurant has finally gone under. Although Caribbean Cuisine Plus More never really caught fire at its new location, owner Vivienne Donaldson and her family are still running a catering business with the same phone number. This means it's not impossible to get Jamaican meat patties and butter-fried plantain, just a lot more difficult. At 1180 South Parker Road, the former home of the not-difficult-to-pronounce-at-all A Gu Rang Guk Soo Rang Korean restaurant will soon hold a Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant named Village Dynasty. The signs out front say "Opening Soon" but give no further details, though it does look like the new owners are taking the whole space -- parts of which have been (among other things) a Russian pizza place, a creepy flathead bar, a beer-and-kabob lunch joint and a Japanese/what-have-you fusion place .
A quick correction: In last week's Bite Me, I talked about Rob and Karen Lawler taking over the cheese business at the Truffle, cramming for the day when current owner David Kaufman walks out the door for good. But in that item, I got one of Rob's old jobs wrong: I said he'd worked as sous chef to John Broening at Duo when he was actually in the house as tournant -- a roundsman. Broening informs me that his only sous chef at Duo is Tyler Skrivarnek, ex of Vesta. Sorry about that one, guys.
But speaking of Broening, anyone in need of a digital foodie fix should try papayapate.blogspot.com. That's the catch-all page for Broening and his girlfriend, pastry chef Yasmin Lozada-Hissom. It's a beautiful website, where they've assembled a lovely, esoteric, strange and occasionally funny collection of food stories, how-to's and histories that reads like a trip through an old recipe box. Do yourself a favor and check it out; I think you'll get hooked.