Gary Mantelli, who was the CEO of Tavern Hospitality Group until three months ago, is the brains behind West of Surrender. Mantelli says that over his career, which includes seven years at THG and many more at Red Robin, he has opened more than eighty restaurants, and that the customer experience is as important as the physical setting. "How do we keep guests coming back?" he asks. "Hospitality is what we do and what we're focused on."
The restaurateur is already familiar with launching a restaurant on the 16th Street Mall; he was with THG when the company opened Otra Vez Cantina just a block away from his new project. But West of Surrender is moving into the Kittredge Building, which has a much deeper restaurant history — something he's mindful of. "We're representing the heritage of the building," Mantelli explains. "There's a long restaurant legacy here; why would we want to do something that doesn't honor that tradition?"
So during the remodel, much of the dark wood of Marlowe's interior was retained, while marble floors were added. The mezzanine level will be dubbed "1891" in honor of the year the building first opened. "There's a panoramic view of the restaurant from up there — that's then trumped by a great view of the city," Mantelli adds. "We've got a great drink program to go with it, a little bit of Old West and a little New West."
The food, too, overseen by executive chef Scott Burnham, will draw from regional culinary history, "whether it's game hens or peppered ribeye steak or something as simple as cornbread," the owner notes. Chef Matt Selby, a veteran of the Denver restaurant scene, is also on board for menu development.
Overall, Mantelli hopes to capture a saloon vibe with West of Surrender. "It's not a sports bar, but it will definitely have high energy," he notes, so local sports fans will feel comfortable cheering on the home team in a lively but casual atmosphere.
Expect an early fall opening for the restaurant — Mantelli says late September or early October. Until then, a temporary banner above the entrance might tell you all you need to know. It reads, "Something westward this way comes," above an image of a bounding jackalope.