Coohill's, a new restaurant designed by Semple Brown, was recently mentioned in a Denver Post article featuring the city's list of new eateries:
Denver — optimistic, ambitious, hungry Denver — is fairly teeming with new restaurants, and they just keep coming. What gives?
The National Restaurant Association reported a slight uptick in nationwide restaurant performance in September (the last month for which records were available at press time), and most indicators suggest that 2011 has been slightly better overall for the hospitality business than the three previous years. But Denver's restaurant scene isn't just simmering. It's on fire.
Chalk it up to Denver Exceptionalism, says Kelly. "The coasts are more sluggish than we are," Kelly says. "People are bailing out of Vegas, bailing from the coasts. Established chefs are choosing to come to Denver and open restaurants. That wasn't happening a decade ago. Ten or 12 years ago, every time a new restaurant opened, I knew who the chef was. Everybody knew everybody. But now, you have established chefs coming from other cities. People want to relocate to Colorado."
One of those big-name transplants is Tom Coohill, whose Atlanta restaurant Ciboulette was long regarded as one of the country's best. His eponymous restaurant, Coohills, opens this week in LoDo. "We saw real opportunity in Denver," he says. "It's a vibrant city, and there are so many really good restaurants here already, but I don't think it's anywhere close to being saturated."
"We've never had this kind of buzz before," says Diane Coohill, Tom's wife and business partner.
Imbergamo suggests that the struggling economy itself might be a positive factor. "In tough economic times, real estate prices tend to go down, and there are more spaces available. Contractors are cheaper, architects are hungrier, there's more used equipment around. And it's much easier to hire staff in 2011."