Cafe Society

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

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They've pushed, too, for a presence in the community and for Denver chefs to have each other's backs, especially given the city's increasingly competitive culinary scene. "We've definitely striven to create a community around the restaurant, and when you look at today's generation of chefs, these guys have a great sense of brotherhood," explains Wolkon, adding that "we've always tried to help a lot of the younger restaurants find their way."

But for all of Vesta's success, it's easy for a restaurant that's witnessed a proliferation of bright, new wunderkinds behind the line and splashy over-budget dining rooms with bathrooms that cost as much as some houses to fade away, either because fickle diners embrace the Next Big Thing, or the restaurant itself simply loses its vitality.

Wolkon is well aware of the dining public's waywardness, but he insists that remaining "relevant" has always been at the forefront of his mind. "We know that we still have to stay on our feet fifteen years later, and we pay very close attention to what's going on in other cities, but more important, we're staying relevant by giving our regulars consistency. We just need to continue to be Vesta, to deliver a fun, casual fine-dining experience, because that's what differentiates us," notes Wolkon, adding, too, that hundreds of guests, in Denver and elsewhere, have chosen Vesta for their celebratory occasions.

And those celebrations, he says, motivated him and his staff to give away twenty free seats to Vesta's upcoming fifteenth anniversary party on July 19, which is now sold out (except for the seats that will be given away on Facebook). The dinner, which starts at 6 p.m., is a six-course feast cooked by Selby; Kenny Turk, Vesta's executive chef; Brandon Biederman, a former Vesta cook who's now the executive chef of Steuben's; and five more Vesta line alumni, including Tyler Skrivanek (Duo); James Rugile (Mizuna); Wade Kirwan (Adrift); Dillon Maddox (Solera); and Drew Hardin (Lola).

"We were all talking about the Vesta anniversary party, and since we've had hundreds of celebrations here — marriage proposals, proms, birthdays, bachelorette parties — we wanted to hear about people's visits over the years and invite those people, some of whom we know, some of whom have flown under the radar, to have a great time with all of us," says Wolkon. "We're all really grateful for Denver, and we're thankful that this city has given us kids the opportunity to stay around as long as we have."

If you still want to submit your celebratory story, you can do so at Eight couples and one party of four will be chosen from the submissions, and while the dinner is free, donations will be accepted on behalf of LoDo Cares, a non-profit that supports the Barth Hotel, managed by Senior Housing Options (SHO), along with beautification projects such as river sweeps and tree planting programs and homelessness efforts.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson