Update, May 25: I just finished interviewing Bill Sherman for this week's upcoming Side Dish column. The most shocking news from the chat is that Sherman is planning to close Amuzé Bistro on May 31, and essentially go all-in on the FAC.
Sherman is confident, having turned a tiny Palmer Lake space into a viable destination restaurant, that he can turn the fickle FAC dining area into one as well.
He says the increase in volume will allow him to match the current price points at the FAC without compromising his former menu style. Meaning Amuzé Bistro fans are going to be able to spend a lot less while still being able to enjoy Sherman's top-quality, fine dining eats.
Check out this week's Side Dish for more details.
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Update, May 24: We just received an e-mail from FAC director of communications Charlie Snyder, naming William Sherman of Amuzé Bistro as the replacement for Garden of the Gods Gourmet at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.
The restaurant name will change from Café 36 to Amuzé at the FAC and according to the release, begin lunch service on Thursday, June 3, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays.
For more on Amuzé Bistro, click here.
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Says Charlie Snyder, the FAC's director of communications:
After negotiating in good faith for the past few months, we weren’t able to reach consensus on some key issues on a new deal. Garden of the Gods Gourmet has done an excellent job of operating Café 36; the food and service were outstanding. We are pleased that they will remain as one of our preferred caterers.
Says Sandra Vanderstoep, owner of Garden of the Gods Gourmet:
We ran into an impasse on the terms of our contract ... We very much regret that we couldn't come to an agreement — our intent was to be in the FAC for a long time. The terms and conditions they were asking to change made it impossible for me to say yes and stay profitable.
As for who will take over operations from here, Snyder says the FAC will likely know something by month's end.
Now here's what I'm wondering: Over the past six years or so, The Food Designers, Picnic Basket and Garden of the Gods Gourmet have all had runs in the Café 36 space, and now all three remain "preferred caterers." (Well — at least everyone knows how to play nice.) How long will the next outfit last, and will the same sticking points that are driving Garden of the Gods out eventually sour the deal?
Does the problem lie with the chefs or the curators?
Call it a eulogy for Café 36 as we currently know it. I do know this: The food at the FAC has been better under Garden of the Gods Gourmet's supervision than ever before, as evidenced by recent awards and several meals had by myself and friends who've expressed the same sentiment.
Whoever steps in better be prepared to pick up the fine dining expectations we now all bring to the FAC. Nobody want to see our gorgeous new museum's restaurant slip back into being a snack bar with a view.