Cafe Society

Vesta Dipping Grill owner Josh Wolkon reflects on fifteen years of success

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"My dream in high school and throughout college was to own my own restaurant," says the Boston native, who managed a Westin hotel in his native city, before moving to Boulder post-college in 1993, where he was a cook at the now defunct Oasis Brewery, part of the opening team of the Foundry, which had a thirteen-year run in Boulder until it closed in 2009, and a staff member at A Spice of Life Catering, which is still going strong since its inception in 1987.

But that was just prep work for the restaurant he would eventually open at the age of 26. "I'd been working on a business plan for Vesta, and to be honest, I thought I'd be opening it in Boston," says Wolkon, but his real estate agent convinced him to look in Denver, specifically LoDo. "I remember thinking that I knew nothing about downtown Denver, except the 16th Street Mall — I didn't understand what Denver was," he admits.

His real estate agent, however, sold him on the idea — and the price per square foot, which was way less than anything in Boulder, was appealing to Wolkon. But it was the promise of a proposed new Stadium Walk, a big-name tenant development and movie theater that had Arnold Schwarzenegger's name attached to it, that sealed the deal. Wolkon signed a lease on the space in 1996, figuring that if the concept of Vesta failed, he "could always do burgers. Either way, I couldn't lose," he reasons.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson