It's been nearly two years since restaurateur Ed Novak retired, selling the forty-year-old Broker, one of downtown's last fine-dining bastions, and its only surviving sibling restaurant, the Cork House Wine Restaurant, to Jerry Fritzler, a long-time employee and partner.
Fritzler vowed to preserve the spirit of both places - including the complimentary bowls of peel-and-eat shrimp that are a Broker institution - but quickly made some changes to their menus. And he's about to unveil much bigger changes at the Cork House, which has been closed for the past three days. Tomorrow it will reopen as the Cork House Broker Restaurant, which sales and marketing director Sarah Bourgoin describes as "the Broker's take on a neighborhood-style steakhouse," complete with many of the items on the downtown Broker's menu.
"People have asked us for years if we're going to open another Broker," she explains. "This time the boss said, 'Let's do it.'"
This won't be a carbon copy of the downtown restaurant, even though the shrimp will definitely be part of the deal. "It's a little different," Bourgoin admits. "It's more affordable. And we wanted to keep the lightheartedness of the Cork House Wine Restaurant. Wine is one of the Broker's themes, and we didn't want to take away the familiarity."
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The old house at 4900 East Colfax Avenue had been home to the legendary restaurant Tante Louise for decades before Novak acquired it. "It's an older property, so it feels like we've been constantly remodeling since we took over eight years ago," Bourgoin says. But this recent work was more than just a little nip and tuck: The upstairs dining room has been expanded, and the restaurant will have a new, 100-seat patio.
Construction should be done in time for the staff to hang the new sign tomorrow, in advance of a grand opening party for the Cork House Broker tomorrow night.
A version of this story originally appeared in Cafe Bites, our weekly newsletter devoted to Denver's food and drink scene, which arrives in e-mail boxes every Wednesday afternoon. Find out how to subscribe here.