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Dog-allowed pub still in the works; meet DoubleTree's new chef 

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Pub Dog still in works

In the first January Indy of 2015, I reported here on a groundbreaking new venture called Pub Dog Colorado (2207 Bott Ave., pubdogcolorado.com). Now, more than a year behind an initially envisioned schedule, and 21/2 years past conception, it's finally set to break ground.

Founder and former firefighter turned developer Scott Downs says some financing snags held up his plans, but he recently closed a loan and now predicts opening around March of 2017. To refresh memories: Downs still believes Pub Dog will be the first restaurant in the country to allow guests to dine indoors with their dogs — many places have legalized canines on patios.

Downs had to finesse a complicated variance with the Health Department, equating to a separate half of a restaurant with its own entrance, with no servers allowed in that area and orders placed through a window, among other stipulations. Pups will also be able to play on a patio area as well as an extensive, connected open space. For provisions, expect 10 taps and a pizza, sandwich and salad menu.

DoubleTree's new chef

Around six years ago, longtime Ritz Grill chef Jay Gust accepted a mission to re-popularize the DoubleTree Hotel (1775 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., doubletree3.hilton.com), which once lured locals (beyond the captive audience) to an eatery on-site called Maxi's Restaurant.

Gust did his best before moving on to an ownership stake in Pizzeria Rustica/TAPAteria, and former ACF president (now board chairman) and longtime local chef Peter Aiello later succeeded him in trying to maintain a consistent, quality banquet and restaurant service. The spot hasn't exactly become a town hit (like, say, one of the Broadmoor's eateries), but it's held its own respectably for its clientele.

Aiello took a job nine months ago as a sales consultant with Denver-based Seattle Fish Co., now selling to the DoubleTree and other fine kitchens around the southern Front Range. And the hotel came under the ownership of Philadelphia-based GF Management around the new year. Then, in early April, it appointed Michael Steele as the new executive chef, most recently serving in the same capacity for another DoubleTree property in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The 37-year-old grew up in Washington, D.C., later working in Maryland and Virginia, initially as a cake decorator prior to being a chef. He also brings experience from cooking at senior living centers to his banquet repertoire, critical to being a good hotel chef. Steele says he's currently working with the menu he inherited, though adding his signature through reworks of plate presentations. He anticipates releasing updated menus for the Atrium Cafe and Lobby Bar around the turn of 2017, after each has undergone a renovation.

That buys him time, he says, to learn more about food culture here. "I saw green chile on the breakfast buffet here and I didn't know what it was," he jokes.

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