Next year, sometime in February, the SPIRE, downtown Denver's new 42-story, skyscraping structure that's currently home to residents and, soon, Organic Pizza Company, will introduce fervent gastronauts to Row 14, a joint venture between David Schneider, a part-time server at Rioja and restaurant business consultant and Arik Markus, the former chef tournant at Fresca Food and Wine in Boulder.
Row 14, the name of which, explains Schneider, was chosen because of its location on Fourteenth Street; the fact that vineyards and gardens grow in rows (foodstuffs plucked from the garden and a strong wine list will play major roles in the new restaurant); and the serendipitous arrival of two Widespread Panic tickets with fourteenth row seats, is a long time dream of Schneider's, who moved to Denver in 2008, after opening -- and owning -- several restaurants in Cleveland and Chicago, including Parallax Restaurant and Lounge and Bin 36, respectively.
Once he hooked up with Markus, Schneider put the ball in motion. "We met through a mutual friend and immediately hit it off," says Schneider. "I had him do a tasting for me that was just amazing, and I knew that this was the guy that I wanted to work with."
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Markus, a New York native who trained at Daniel and Le Bernadin, has also done time in several San Francisco kitchens, including Bambuddha Lounge and Oliveto, a spin-off of Chez Panisse. His menu, which he describes as "experiential," will be a global, seasonal homage to Colorado ingredients, amplified by Italian, French, Latin American and Asian components.
The wine syllabus, notes Schneider, will offer forty pours by the glass, a rotating flight program, more than fifty bottlings and "some collector types for the wine connoisseur." The goal, he says, is to keep both the menu and the wine scroll affordable and accessible. "I've learned along the way that if you're able to deliver on service, price yourself appropriately, deliver great food and pour a great drink that it's usually a recipe for success."
The location, adds Schneider, is another plus. "This is a great opportunity that's providing us with proximity to the Colorado Convention Center, the theater district and residents of the SPIRE and everyone else who lives downtown," he says. He's convinced, too, that the space, bedecked with marble and walled with floor-to-ceiling windows that will open up to the street, will be a big draw, too. "It'll be warm and rustic, but sophisticated without being pretentious, and it will definitely have a synergy with the SPIRE building." The restaurant, located on the ground floor, will serve lunch and dinner daily, brunch on Sunday and an abbreviated late-night menu seven days a week.
"I'm very, very excited about this project, totally psyched about the design and I'm hoping that we can establish ourselves as a neighborhood cornerstone in the middle of all the action," says Schneider.