Denver's most notable restaurant couple, Leigh Sullivan and Troy Guard, split -- and a mass exodus from TAG ensues

TroyandLeighsplit1.jpg
It's splitsville for Denver restaurant couple Leigh Sullivan and Troy Guard.
It was a Las Vegas, tunnel-of-love, drive-thru wedding. Leigh Sullivan and Troy Guard, the chef/owner of TAG and TAG| RAW BAR, met just three months before they took off for Las Vegas and tied the knot in 2004 in the back seat of a cab at Sin City's Little White Chapel.

While both were a little tipsy when they said their "I dos," they agreed to stay together through thick and thin. And to anyone on the outside looking in, their union blossomed into a marriage that made everyone around them want what they had.

In the seven years they've been together, Troy and Leigh opened TAG, followed by TAG | RAW BAR; they became operating partners of Madison Street; Leigh created the Denver Five, a coalition of some of the city's most talented chefs, including Troy, who showcase Denver's culinary prowess at the James Beard House; they had a baby, Grace, who's just two, to join Leigh's daughter Mackenzie; and they appeared to be crazy in love.

But late Monday afternoon, Troy walked out the door, leaving Leigh stupefied. On Tuesday, she learned that he was seeing someone else. "Everyone thought that we had it all, including me, but apparently having it all wasn't enough for Troy," Leigh says. "Having a beautiful family, successful businesses, and a loyal wife who loved her husband with every fiber of her being just wasn't enough."

Just days after Troy shut the door behind him, Leigh filed for divorce and washed her hands completely of TAG, TAG | RAW BAR and Madison Street. Several major players and key management staffers at TAG followed suit -- and yesterday, there was a mass exodus so extreme that Troy had to close TAG | RAW BAR in order to cover positions at TAG.

"There was a major walkout," says Brian Melton, who had been the primary face of TAG's bar and cocktail program since the Larimer Square restaurant opened two years ago. "When I found out that Leigh was no longer going to be a part of this restaurant, I knew I didn't want to be a part of it, either."

According to Melton, James Lee, TAG's recently hired beverage manager, along with Jenson Cummings, TAG's chef de cuisine; general manager Jeff Parr and nearly a dozen other TAG employees either headed straight for the exit or submitted their two-week notice.

"It was sort of this unspoken allegiance on our part that we no longer wanted to be a part of this," says Melton. "Over the two years we worked together, all of us had become a family, and Leigh is like my big sister -- she's my girl -- and I couldn't stand to see what was happening to her. And while I've put my heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into this place, I couldn't stand idle, and I'm leaving with my head held high."

Everyone, including Leigh, will survive, he says, but adds, "My heart goes out to Grace, their little girl. That's the biggest travesty in all of this. She doesn't deserve this."

For his part, Troy -- a natural talker -- is keeping uncharacteristically mum. "I don't feel I need to spill my beans about Leigh and me and the restaurant," he says. "I'm concentrating on being a dad to my daughters, Grace and Mackenzie, and taking care of TAG restaurants and my employees." And TAG | RAW BAR, he promises, will reopen tonight.

Leigh, meanwhile, is marching onward. "I'm looking at this as an opportunity to pull myself up, dust myself off and show my girls what their mother is made of -- that when the going gets tough, the tough get going," she says. As for her relationship with the restaurants, Leigh tells me that when she and Troy inked the deals, only his name was on all the documents. "All of the liability is his," she notes.

Still, they share a long history in Denver's restaurant scene, and this split is going to shake up that scene for some time.

Location Info

TAG

1441 Larimer St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
70 comments
Cock1ness
Cock1ness

Lori Midson, how is this any of your damn business? You kept my attention, i'll give you that. But the simple fact that you are trying to involve not just the Denver food community, but the entire Denver community as well, thats crappy.Thats low. That makes me believe you are lonely. Not just lonely, but distasteful. The sad part is that this story was written over 2 years ago and its still headlined when you "google" Chef Troy Guard. Thats not bogus? A man cannot make a mistake? A man who has a simple objective, and thats to service quality food to smiling guests? You treat him like the paparazzi treat starts in Hollywood. He may be a local celebrity, but he's a human too. Just like all of those fools we watch on reality television. 

I have to imagine that this hit the restaurant pretty hard by the sound of it. But TAG is still thriving! I can only add outside influence, but i eat there pretty regularly and of course different seasons bring the restaurant different amounts of business. 


Troy donates and gives back to thecommunity. Quit listening to this mumbo jumbo.

Qynyrd Skynyrd
Qynyrd Skynyrd

Sounds like a personal affair. Lori Midson is annoying, and her palette is unrefined. Her reviews are simply juvenile, and this gossip garbage is right up her alley.

How does this material help anyone besides you, Lori? Certainly won't help those kids at all. It's just not news.

You should be ashamed printing these things.

dish publicity
dish publicity

i think we're missing the point here: lori midson's job is to report on market driven news. there was a mass exodus from a high profile restaurant--of course she had to tell the whole story.  it is a very sad thing that is taking place between leigh and troy, but let's not kill the messenger here, folks.  it is not her fault that troy had only brief comments while leigh had many. lori is a 15 year veteran of colorado food journalism...she's not going to play favorites now. if that were the case, i'd use my 20 year relationship with her as leverage to pimp my own clients...but she'd call "no dice" for sure. so, let's stop backbiting and instead focus on getting the people who walked out of TAG some new jobs. 

AWIN
AWIN

It seems to be a new low for Ms. Midson.. why should the population care?  Distasteful as is Ms. Midson.. Squeaky Bean is gone and you have nothing to report?

The Wolff
The Wolff

Well Said. Wouldn't it be nice if Westword supported the dining scene in Denver rather than writing about personal gossip that is none of our business.

AWIN
AWIN

I think Ms. Midson needs to be replaced with someone who is not so.. what would the word be, incompetent!   Westword deserves so much more!!  I look forward to your wrath Ms. Midson. 

CHITY CHITY BANG BANG
CHITY CHITY BANG BANG

This is all so stupid!!! NO BODY CARES!!!! NO BODY!!!!!

Mcdenver
Mcdenver

Chity Chity...lol, buddy.  If you're named after musical film by a similar name...ahem, you spelled your name wrong...(you also spelled nobody wrong twice.) 

I agree with you for sure, this is all so stupid. 

Arcade
Arcade

It is what it is. At least Leigh could quickly clear her name of any undo fault as to the future of the business and her responsibilities thereof. I wish her and the babes the best. Stupid & arrogant men suck, women know this and should act accordingly...

GFTW
GFTW

Seems like Leigh should continue to be referred to as "Sullivan-Guard" until the divorce is FINALIZED, silly as hyphenated names are...

Anonymous
Anonymous

Her name never legally had Guard in it...just saying

Blueyedrgn
Blueyedrgn

Wow---There seem to be a lot of comments on what should be a PRIVATE situation.  Yes, mistakes were made, big ones, but is this any reason to slam a person like this.  I don't know this couple personally but seriously...what kind of person puts this stuff out there for the public to see and to comment on...Really this should have been handled privately and with dignity.  So much for marital assests and the childrens' well being...Now everyone knows and people that have no right to be in this very private situation will be.

SawitComing
SawitComing

Live by the "high profile restaurant business power couple"; die by the "high profile restaurant business power couple."

The bottom line is:  TAG's food isn't worth the price.  The lack of sales volume couldn't sustain the hype, especially with outstanding competition on the block and around the corner.  That's plenty enough to crush a business-based romantic relationship.  The side-boinking is merely a symptom.

Done aaaaand done.

Jasondlarochelle
Jasondlarochelle

MILEHIGHCUISINE  the exodus was entirely based on Troy. He's a fucking prick, a tyrant, a cheat.... and the bulk of his menu items are the ideas of his staff, and not himself. You have CLEARLY never worked for the man. I spent two years in front of him, holidays with the family, and so on. Troy is simply getting what he deserves. 

inebriatedgentleman
inebriatedgentleman

Well said J-La, Mile High Cusine who are you and what big leagues are you taking about?  This was fun and all but I gotta run

Truth be told
Truth be told

Sounds like sour grapes, you couldn't hang with Troy so you had to quit, now you take a shot at him.  Tell me, what are you doing now?  Have you opened your own place that is kicking ass?  Doubt it.  You say TAG is a marketing mess, seems to be a pretty kick ass place to me.  Keep your sour grapes to yourself, you sound like an idiot.

inebriatedgentleman
inebriatedgentleman

And trust me I'm fine I work less and make more money my life is actually better its not sour grapes its a genuine dislike for him

Sent from my HTC on the Now Network from Sprint!

----- Reply message -----

inebriatedgentleman
inebriatedgentleman

Hey troy is that you, I dont care what u think bro and if its not then eat a Dick, have you worked for him or has he tried to blackball you to other restaurants, well that goes both ways ill take it then give it right backSent from my HTC on the Now Network from Sprint!

----- Reply message -----

A Loyal Person!
A Loyal Person!

inebraitedgentleman - It sounds more like the whore Nikki who is unemployed and has nothing better to do than support her home wrecking, unfaithful fuck buddy! Maybe she should get off the blog and go home to her finance.

inebriatedgentleman
inebriatedgentleman

He was banging my replacement?  Thats even better so indirectly my quitting will have brought down TAG thats fucking awesome.  Leigh should get the restaurant in the settlement and change the name to something like "Alimony"

moody
moody

 Nikki - was(is?) the new assistant manager at TAG, who Troy fell in adulterous lust with.  Gold digging much?

Theonegordo
Theonegordo

Sorry misspelled on my touchscreen Webster, and I didn't get fired never have been fired in my life and who the fuck is nikki

Truth be told
Truth be told

I'm not Troy, and have no idea who you are.  You just sound like a guy who eats sour grapes.

inebriatedgentleman
inebriatedgentleman

You didn't think I wouldn't comment on this would you, Gordon "Motherfucking" Cresswell here.  As someone who has worked for Troy and also quit on his tiny megalomanic ass, I say good for all of you who left.  There is some real talent out there right now and any restaurant owner who hasn't already contacted Brian, Jensen, and the others who left is missing out on a great opportunity.  TAG is going to the way of 9-7-5, when I quit Troy said he didn't need anybody cause TAG is its on thing and he can find even better people to run it, well here your chance Troy cause you got nobody now.  Beaufrog and Baum can't save your ass from this marketing nightmare and anyone who has worked there or in the industry knows Jensen Cummings was the talent running the kitchen.  Ling Hing Mui will now be in every dish.  I'm curious as to what Jeff and Joe (larimer group) thinks of this new marketing campaign Troy has going for him.  Raw Bar will be a salon in two years which is too bad because Sam and Shaun are very talented pumping out great food.  I'm very curious to who he gets to replace a whole management team when he has ran through half of qualified restaurant managers in the city, i was number 18 or 19 to leave him and that was in April just shy of TAG's second anniversary.  I'm guessing he won't be posting any craigslist ads here in the city maybe you can find another Taka on the big island, sorry inside joke.  Well thats probably enough I told you so, I think its out of my system.

www.theinebraitedgentleman.com

MileHighCuisine
MileHighCuisine

Another slacker who couldn't cut it in the big leagues.  And if your boy Jensen is working at the house of morals, he won't find a place in Denver.  Every restaurant has a cross pollinated staff.  If you can't stick by the guy who gave you a shot and be a working professional, then where's the loyalty on your resume?  Isn't 9-7-5 the place that went down AFTER the chef was fired, by his own wife's dad?  You see what kind of blood she comes from, try living with it.

Webster
Webster

"Inebraited" is not a word.  The word is "inebriated."  No wonder your stupid ass got fired.

MileHighCuisine
MileHighCuisine

Obvious attempt for the wife to absolve herself of any fault.  This article was certainly instigated by her as a PR stunt and only tells her side.  Half-ass journalism at best.  Sad to see a decent person only hurt herself and her family in the long run by taking personal matters public. It's just a mask that real people can see through, especially those close enough to know the truth. No good man leaves a great wife!  Many of the quitters who abandoned the chef will later realize they had been fooled by a drama queen, some of those unemployed schleps had slept around with other married staff members themselves, pure hypocrites.  It's unfortunate an adult on her 3rd marriage can't handle her personal life in a mature fashion.  Thank goodness this incredible restaurant can operate without dead weight and get back to being the best social eatery my town has to offer.  I just may come back and work there again now.

Denveater
Denveater

"No good man leaves a great wife!"

Good people leave good people all the time. Good people also leave bad people, and bad people leave good people. 

Just saying. I have no dog in this particular fight, but I do have objections to flawed logic.

GFTW
GFTW

But bad people stick together??

Denveater
Denveater

Ha. You are absolutely right, that too is a possible scenario.

ESP is not taught in J-school
ESP is not taught in J-school

There's only so much a reporter can do when one person is willing to comment on a story and the other is not. If Troy had offered up more than a couple of sentences that amount to "no comment," Lori would have quoted him as extensively as she quoted his soon-to-be-ex-wife. But as it stands, Leigh and some of the employees who left were willing to go on-the-record, and Troy was not. It's kind of hard to get "the other side" of the story when the only person who can give perspective on it won't talk.

Yes, it's a personal matter -- but in the context of employees walking out and a restaurant shuttering temporarily until more people can get hired on and trained, you'd better believe it's newsworthy.

I'm sure Lori's as sorry as the rest of us that she's not versed in ESP and can't pluck "the other side of the story" out of Troy's brain. Maybe they should make How To Read Minds a mandatory class in journalism school before students are allowed to graduate.

MileHighCuisine
MileHighCuisine

It reads like an editorial by a soap opera columnist and considering the wife is the PR lady, she obviously instigated the piece.  What person publicizes herself days after a break-up and references her family in an effort to harm others?  It's spiteful and this blog is just the weapon of choice.  From what I heard Leigh called a meeting and told everybody if they didn't leave she'd turn the town against them.  I bet she was already kicked to the curb and this was her only recourse.  Exodus by manipulation, must have been the perfect wife.  Deal with your personal life outside of your business profession, grow up, and deal with it like a family, not a reality TV show.  Dragging your kids into the spotlight and trying to spoil careers while highlighting opportunities for quitters, shameful.  I'm sure she's a sweet person, which is the sad part, and is hurt; but she's only showing her true colors with circus acts like this.

Truth be told
Truth be told

my point is that Troy doesn't need to comment, it is nobody's business but his and his wife.  just because the wife wants to get back at Troy and initiate an article doesn't mean Troy needs comment.  i commend Troy for not commenting and keeping his personal life right where it belongs!

Jessehall
Jessehall

They made their marriage and relationship very much a part of their restaurant and public persona. Once you cross that line you can't go back when it is convenient for you. 

zoso
zoso

Typical of a bunch of drama queen waiters to quit with no notice because of someone else's divorce.....what about the guests?

Cronkite
Cronkite

ahahahahahaha!...."tasteful reporting"....that's a hoot!

Truth be told
Truth be told

seriously?  that is your comment?  unreal.  there is a tasteful way to report, and then an irresponsible way to do it.  I'll leave it at that.

ESP is not taught in J-school
ESP is not taught in J-school

"Several TAG employees jumped ship this week for no apparent reason.

In (probably) completely unrelated news, Leigh Sullivan is no longer affiliated with TAG, TAG|RAW BAR or Madison Street."

Yes, I can see your point. Quoting the employees as to why they jumped ship -- in their own words, no less -- is an irresponsible thing for a journalist to do, no matter how you slice it.

/sarcasm

Truth be told
Truth be told

It is one thing to report that employees walked, it is another thing entirely to say they walked BC they supported his wife who loved him "with every fiber of her being" when that is a total crock.  If she reported the facts, and not speculation that would be one thing, but to spin the story that the marraige ended BC Troy "shut the door" and left his wife "stupified" is just irresponsible.

ESP is not taught in J-school
ESP is not taught in J-school

You are certainly entitled to your opinion. However, clearly several of Troy's employees felt strongly enough to walk, which also makes it the business of all the people who attempted to visit TAG|RAW BAR only to find it shuttered temporarily -- as well as the business of patrons of both restaurants who will be surprised not to see certain familiar faces when they next visit. It's called "news."

And Troy is also entitled to his silence. It is a free country. But he had to know when he declined to comment that this story was still newsworthy. Stories run every day in which key players refuse to comment. That's the industry.

I'm just saying: It's kind of stupid to blame the reporter for a) reporting a story that clearly has a lot to do with the local dining scene, and b) attempting to balance her reporting by seeking quotes from both sides, then c) getting all bent-out-of-shape when one key person refuses to comment. It's Troy's prerogative to keep mum. It's Lori's job to report restaurant news in this city. So basically, you -- and some other people on this thread -- are attacking her for doing her job as best she could with the information at hand.

You can squawk "private affair" all you like; all that means is you should brush up on your definition of what news is. (Here's the dictionary.com version, for your convenience: "a report of a recent event; intelligence; information.")

GFTW
GFTW

Well, maybe they should teach kidnapping and water boarding in Journolism schools!

Lori Midson
Lori Midson

I couldn't have said it better myself. 

David
David

I will continue to go to TAG for the same reason I used to go... because its incredible.  I don't go to restaurants to support the owner.  I think Troy will be fine with or without my money.  Half of marriages in this country fail, but we only criticize those that are made public by the media.  Everyone should leave them alone and let Troy and Leigh deal with their personal issues themselves. 

Probably bad news
Probably bad news

David, if you truly love the food at TAG then you are going to need to find out where Jensen Cummings gets his next job and go there to eat; because he created and then prepaired all the best dishes at TAG.

Truth be told
Truth be told

Funny how this story is so one sided.  Truth be told, it is also inaccurate.  There are always two sides to every story, but I guess not here.  Maybe if you all knew the details from both sides you'd feel different.  Sounds like everyone should mind their own business and take care of there own problems rather than sounding off on other peoples troubles.  This story is just a one sided spin job.  What a joke.

panic101
panic101

funny who leigh is in PR...i wonder how this article got published so quickly?

Anon
Anon

So, give us the other side.

Truth be told
Truth be told

it's not my business to give the other side, it's there business

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...