In the coming months, you'll hear more about the tentative October opening of Denver's Southern Hospitality (1433 17th St., southernhospitalitydenver.com) barbecue, Southern comfort food and bourbon joint. Why?
Because of star power and a certain Colorado Springs connection. It all started with Justin Timberlake's place on the Upper East Side of New York, which quickly spawned a Hell's Kitchen sister, the kind of hip space that lures folks like the Yankees' Derek Jeter to celebrate his 3,000th hit in the VIP room.
Enter Timberlake's friend and minor partner in the Hell's Kitchen location, Ryan Tedder — writer of the smash hit "Apologize" at his dad's piano in Colorado Springs, and attendee of the Colorado Springs Christian School his senior year. The OneRepublic frontman envisioned an SH location in his current home of Denver.
With the help of his father Gary and the newly formed Southern Hospitality Franchisee Holding Corp., which includes several corporate powerhouses on its management team, Tedder plans soon to be a shareholder in some 30 nationwide stores (independent from the NYC originals).
"We're positioning ourselves to be the greatest restaurant collection of the social media age," says Gary.
The corporate offices for this hopeful empire reside with him inside downtown Colorado Springs' FirstBank building. And chef Victor Matthews, Gary's old friend and proprietor of Green Mountain Falls' Black Bear restaurant, has been named consultant chef of the venture. As such, Matthews plans to feed his Paragon Culinary School graduates into the SH system, lend its training systems to the Denver hub, and share his extensive bourbon and barbecue research.
Each location, from Nashville and Austin to Atlanta, New Orleans and Palo Alto, will capture some of its own local color, including certain menu items to reflect regional cuisine, as well as local craft beers and spirits.
"There are certain celebrity restaurants where they lend their name, but that's all — the restaurants don't deliver on all the levels that we intend to," says Gary. "Those with any sense of awareness readily differentiate between affectation and genuine hospitality. For us, it's real."
Vino for Victorian
Look for the opening of 2South Wine Bar (2southwinebar.com) sometime around mid- to late June in the former Deb's Coffee House at 2 S. 25th St. Co-owner Rod Quass says he and his wife Amy are in the midst of overhauling the old Victorian, including adding a hood in the kitchen to allow for more actual cooking. As for the vino, a special preservation system will allow for 64 wines to be served by the glass.
Quass says he plans to serve lunch and dinner and possibly brunches down the road, with small-to-medium plates such as charcuterie and cheese plates, salads and flatbreads, most with a wine-friendly Mediterranean flair. This is the couple's first restaurant venture, but they ran a high-adventure camp (offering outdoors team and leadership training) for more than a decade, and operated their own gourmet food service in the field.
Two years after The Olive Tap opened in Manitou Springs, downtown Colorado Springs is set by month's end to get its own gourmet tap-house of monounsaturated goodness in the form of Venice Olive Oil Co. (109 N. Tejon St., veniceoliveoil.com).
The company is expanding from Venice and Sarasota, Fla., where stores opened in August and December 2011, respectively. Owner Mike Lamberto acknowledges the rapid growth but says it will likely halt with one more Florida location. He came out of retirement to open the stores after encountering Veronica Foods' 100 percent extra virgin olive oil as a housewarming gift.
Just as at the Manitou market, guests will be able to sample from more than 25 oils and the same number of vinegars, mostly hailing from Europe, and fill anything from a 2-ounce to 12.7-ounce bottle ($4.95 to $19.95, depending on type).
"There's nothing cheap about what we carry here," says Lamberto, crediting Veronica, the importer and distributor recently profiled in the well-regarded book Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil.
Essentially, Lamberto says most commercial olive oils include other "junk oils" even when they say "extra virgin" on the label. Veronica imports nothing but the good stuff.
À la carte
• After taking over the kitchen at Craftwood Inn (404 El Paso Blvd., Manitou Springs, craftwood.com) on Feb. 1, Dave Cottrill was relieved of those duties this past weekend, and plans to return to his former stomping ground of Charleston, S.C.
Craftwood GM E.J. Kelley calls the split amicable, and has named sous chef Tim Richardson as interim head chef. Richardson started around the same time as Cottrill, and Kelley says he's "pretty confident" the young chef will grow into the lead role. He'll oversee an "evolving menu concept" that factors in popularity and guest feedback as much as seasonality.
• According to messages on its phone and website, the Dutch Kitchen (1025 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, dutchkitchen.net) has closed after 53 years in business. Owner Mike Flynn passed away last week after a lengthy battle with cancer. An outpouring of community support, including many fond memories of the eatery's famous pies, can be found on the site's comment page and Facebook page.