The refashioned Fat Frog Cafe reopens in downtown Littleton

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I crashed a Christmas party. Unintentionally, I might add, but nonetheless, when I waltzed into the Fat Frog Cafe earlier this afternoon to check out the new digs, I came face-to-face with a blizzard of Christmas sweaters -- none of which, surprisingly, were ugly. But even if they had been, I likely wouldn't have noticed, because the Fat Frog -- a former bar and grill that wasn't much to look at -- is all shiny and new, just like a frog after a bubble bath.

"We totally gutted it, so it's been a long time coming," says Paul Laird, who owns the Fat Frog with his wife, Kathy. The space, once stained with the yellow aftermath of smoke, is now hued terracotta, the walls a backdrop for red- and orange-striped banquettes and booths, espresso-stained tables, a voyeuristic kitchen and a marble bar.

"When we closed the Fat Frog in February to redo it, I didn't want to reopen it as another bar and grill," explains Laird. "I wanted to do a concept that was extremely family-friendly, repeatable and affordable, and we wanted to do more than just sandwiches." Sandwiches -- huge sandwiches -- occupy a large portion of the menu, as do soups and salads, but executive chef Joel Cline, who did time on the line in the kitchens at Castle Pines golf club, the former Argyll in Cherry Creek and the long-gone Adega, also wanted to do a crepe bar, and he got his way: There are more than a dozen sweet and savory crepes on the menu, including ham and Swiss, roast beef and Gorgonzola, spinach and feta, crepe Suzette, a strawberry and chocolate crepe, and and a s'mores crepe. "My daughter loves crepes, too, and she insisted that we serve them," Laird adds.

"We want the Fat Frog to be a warm gathering spot for people in the neighborhood," says Laird, who has spent several years in the restaurant business, owning the Bear Valley Inn for twenty years and opening several Cork 'N Cleaver restaurants across the country, one of which used to reside in Denver. "I've run a lot of restaurants, and I've owned enough bars in my life to know that I didn't want a shot-and-a-beer kind of place. We want women to be able to come in and have a nice glass of wine -- the most affordable glass of wine on Main Street," he stresses, noting that wines by the glass start at $5.50, while all the wines by the bottle are in the $20 to $30 range.

The Fat Frog's hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Laird plans to start delivery shortly, and in early January, the cafe will start serving breakfast seven days a week. "The menu will have several breakfast crepes, and just like omelets and Benedicts, they can be pretty much made with every ingredient imaginable," says Laird.

For more info, call 303-794-8507.

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