"The biggest question we get is how long we can stay in business at these prices," says Jim Krug, owner of two-week-old Diane's Restaurant and Coffee Shop (dianes.co), which occupies the former Paragon Culinary School and Cedars Jazz Club space at 3125 Sinton Road.
Krug, operator of two local Bargain Marts, is talking about weekday express lunches and old-fashioned dinners including a salad, beverage, veggie, potato variety, meat entrée and bonus dessert brownie for only $5. The remainder of his breakfast, lunch and dinner menu tops out at $6 for a ham or hamburger steak. Scratch-made soups are only $2.
Other factors worth a note: It's cash and check only; no tipping allowed; and only those free brownies come from Bargain Mart. Krug buys fresh from Costco, Sam's Club and Denver's Restaurant Depot. He admittedly needs high volume daily — 400 diners to break even and 600 to meet his profit goal — for the concept to work.
"We're not trying to be everything to everyone," he says. "We keep the selection minimal to keep costs down. It's just like eating at home. ... I want to be a place you could afford to eat every day."
Gourmet game day
Look at the menus on the Sporting News Grill's (1855 Aeroplaza Drive, 380-8516) Facebook page, and you'll get quite a different picture than the "upscale sports bar" that food and beverage manager Nicky Serbanescu describes by phone. You see burgers, pizzas and wings, but not bacon-wrapped shrimp, German delicacies and amazing pork shanks he promises. Nor the untouchable cognac and brandy list, 48 wines and 30 beers. "My menu is limitless," Serbanescu asserts.
Explanation: The man formerly behind three incarnations of Nicky's restaurants now works alongside former Uwe's German Restaurant head Uwe Dethlefsen inside the Holiday Inn space, and the owner there has gifted them freedom to put the newbie eatery "on the map." Look for customized breakfasts, lunch service by March, wine flights soon and more.
Paint it purple
Downtown will see the opening of a new coffee roaster/art gallery on Feb. 4 in the former Smokebrush Gallery space at 218 W. Colorado Ave. But to be clear, Purple Mountain Coffee Co. isn't actually new: Open since 1998, it's moving from Monument into the small studio, which will double as exhibit space for Kreuser Gallery. Curator Abby Kreuser also works at Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. Her mother, Pat Ellis, primarily oversees the roasting.
A like-named coffee shop that Ellis sold in 2006 remains in business at 7601 N. Union Blvd. This new outfit will function as a roaster, rather than a comfy-chair respite center for disaffected hipsters.