"All the nobody people, and all the somebody people, I never thought I'd need so many people," sang David Bowie in the 1972 song "Five Years." And for years, vegans have been nobody people as restaurant customers, generally relegated to ordering a plateful of boring vegetables or plain pasta at standard restaurants or off-putting meat substitutes at hippy-dippy vegetarian cafes.
But a new restaurant called Somebody People is nearly ready to open at 1165 South Broadway, promising to welcome plant-based eaters into a hip, inviting space where great food and drink are a priority, even if meat, dairy and eggs aren't. The new restaurant is the project of Samuel and Tricia Maher, the forces behind vegan pop-up concept Scam Likely, and chef Simonas Sungaila, who recently completed stages at zero-waste restaurants in Europe after working in Washington, D.C.
Samuel Maher, whose résumé includes GM at Mercantile Dining & Provision and director of operations at Avroko in New York City, explains that the menu will be Mediterranean-themed, with handmade pastas and farm-fresh produce. "We're letting vegetables and grains speak for themselves," he notes, adding that fake meats won't be part of the program. There will also be a list of sixty biodynamic and natural wines and coffee and tea from Denver's Commonwealth Coffee Roasters.
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The restaurant takes over the space most recently occupied by the Denver Tea Room & Coffee Salon and will be a 65-seat all-day eatery opening at 7 a.m. for breakfast before transitioning to lunch and dinner menus. Maher describes the vibe as 1960s Palm Beach, with a beachy, seaside quality borrowed from his Sydney, Australia roots. Murals from artists Lindee Zimmer, Chelsea Lewinski (both participating in Crush Walls this year) and Elena Gunderson are in the works, and decor will include pieces from photographer Chelsea Chorpenning.
"We're working toward zero waste and creating a menu free from harm," Maher explains. That includes repurposed and upcycled furnishings; even the "leather" on the barstools is actually Piñatex, a textile made from pineapple fiber.
"There will be a really limited impact on the environment and a massive impact on flavor and entertainment," Maher adds.
The team is aiming for a late-September opening, inviting Denver plant-based eaters to become Somebody People.