The pizza oven has flown the coop at Stingray, the bar and pizza joint that Leigh Jones of Jonesey's EatBar and her partner, Margaret Moore (together they also own Bar Car and the Horseshoe Lounge) opened eight months ago at 2911 West 38th Avenue. And that's not all that's changed: After closing the kitchen on Super Bowl Sunday, the watering hole/restaurant reopened on Monday as Coop de Ville at the Stingray -- a name, says Jones, that reflects the kitchen's new chicken concept.
"When we first opened, our business plan was to deliver pizzas to the neighborhood, but we soon learned that we couldn't do that, because there's a Domino's Pizza in our strip mall, and they have a non-compete clause," explains Jones. "We were like, oh...fuck, but at the same time, we discovered that the neighbors didn't want just a bar -- but a bar with a restaurant, which surprised us."
But while Jones was irritated by the Domino's delivery monopoly, she went ahead with pizzas, tossing them solely inside the bar. "We went ahead and served pizzas at Stingray, but we also started thinking about what the neighborhood really needed, and we didn't see any good American comfort food, and that's when we started to play around with the chicken idea," she says.
One of the first ideas to come out of that fowl brainstorming was beer-can chicken, and while Jones wanted to buy a rotisserie, the cost, she says, was too prohibitive. "We priced it out, and it was a little scary," so instead, she got her hands on a Vulcan commercial convection oven. "Rotisseries are great, but we're really happy with the oven we have, and it produces a killer chicken that stays really juicy and holds up well."
But the beer-can chicken idea was booted back to the barn. Recognizing that the neighborhood is filled with couples who have kids, they decided instead to go with a family-friendly version: Rocky Mountain Colorado Cola Chicken, made from soda brewed locally, in Commerce City. "We're using Red Bird Farms chicken, which is local, so it made sense to use a local soda, too," Jones says. And that's just the start of the cluck-y dishes on the new menu, executed by chef Nate White, who worked for the Little Pub Company and the Wynkoop Group; Jones says he's a bona fide bird geek.
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"It feels a bit crazy to be so excited about the humble roasted chicken, but we're really thrilled about bringing this to the 'hood, the dynamics of which we understand a bit better now," she admits. "It's gonna rock, and we couldn't have pulled it off without our chef, Nate, who's got some mad skills in the kitchen and loves our vision."
And speaking of vision, Jones has more projects on the horizon, including the addition of a rooftop deck above Coop de Ville and an eventual expansion of the ground-floor space. In the meantime, she plans to host parties in the parking lot during the summer months. "We have a lot to think about it over the next few months," Jones concludes, "and we're really excited about what we're doing now -- and what our plans are for the future."
A version of this story appeared in today's Cafe Bites, our weekly newsletter devoted to Denver's food and drink scene. Find out how to subscribe here.