Cafe Society

Update: More management change at Mezcal

The celebrated Mezcal restaurant, located at 3230 East Colfax Avenue in Denver, announced yesterday that it has appointed Basic Food Group as its new restaurant management company. "We will operate Mezcal with the highest of standards; the reasons people love Mezcal will not change. The staff and the managers of Mezcal are looking forward to working with the dynamic team at Basic Food Group," said Tim Connors.

Connors, now the brand-new directing partner of Mezcal's new incarnation under Basic Food Group, put out that release shortly after the news broke that chef Sean Yontz and owner/partner Jesse Morreale had been relieved of management duties at the restaurant they'd been running for six years -- on Mezcal's sixth anniversary.

It went on to say that customers should "expect to see new menu items, fun and exciting promotions and a continuation of [Mezcal's] energetic atmosphere" -- just without the two guys who've essentially acted as both the public face of Mezcal (Morreale) and the inspiration for its cuisine (Yontz) ever since the doors opened.

I'm a little bit concerned about the "new menu items" portion of that announcement. Even though it looks like Yontz's long-time partner and go-to guy, Roberto Diaz, is going to be running the line, I'm always nervous when any new "management group" comes in saying it's going to be changing the cuisine at a restaurant that was operating smoothly before it came in.

And "fun and exciting promotions" smacks a little bit of dime-beer desperation and shooters being poured by the Budweiser bikini girls. Maybe I'm jaded, but I've just seen a lot of restaurants go bad wrong once the consultants and management groups start working their magic. Still, the dust kicked up by this sudden change has not yet begun to settle, so we'll all have to see how things shake out over the coming weeks.

One thing I can say, though? In yesterday's piece, I wrote that Morreale and Yontz were "no longer welcome on the premises," because that's what he'd told me on Wednesday night. But Morreale dropped me a note yesterday and told me that wasn't entirely true. "We weren't at the party last night because we elected not to be," he wrote. "But we can still go [to Mezcal]. I do, after all, own the place."

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Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan