Daniel Kuhlman, owner of Roam, comes out swinging -- literally -- after abruptly closing his restaurant (again)

Danielfingershake.jpg
Lori Midson
Daniel Kuhlman, owner of Roam, wags his finger at chef Tony Clement after first getting in a few shoves.
The text from Mandi Clement read, "Please call me when you get a moment. Fairly urgent."

Thirty minutes later, I was at Roam, the Uptown restaurant that Daniel Kuhlman owns with his wife, Kristel -- the same restaurant that originally opened as Wild Catch, an upscale sustainable seafood den that went underwater after opening exec chef Justin Brunson sailed out the door, his staff right there behind him.

And today, Kuhlman abruptly shuttered Roam -- and how it all went down is just bizarre.

Several of the former staff, including exec chef Tony Clement, who came on board when Wild Catch reopened as Roam, his wife and front-of-the-house manager, Mandi, two servers and a dishwasher were next door at Las Margaritas when I showed up. They gathered in front of Roam, I took a photograph and, suddenly, Kuhlman flung open the front door, started shoving people out of the way, including me, and then attempted to grab my camera, nearly knocking me to the pavement in the process. After he and Tony exchanged words (and Daniel wagged his finger in Tony's face), Tony called the police.

Mandi and Tony had already come face-to-face with Denver's finest once today, after Daniel, who changed the locks almost immediately, felt the need to have the couple escorted off the premises. "Apparently, he was afraid we were going to steal his stuff, so he called the police," says Tony.

Roamsecondtimecops.jpg
Denver's finest showed up once to escort the Clements out of the restaurant; they arrived again after Tony Clement called to report an assault.
Roam is closed on Tuesday, but Tony had stopped by to water the tomato plants he had planned to move to the rooftop garden once the weather turned warm. "I was walking down the stairs to water the plants, and ran into Kristel, who said, 'Hey, how are you?' And when I got downstairs, everything in dry storage was packed up," says Tony. "I came back up the stairs and asked her if they were throwing in the towel, and she said they were."

And then, according to Tony, Kristel claimed that Daniel intended to let them know tomorrow, by phone, that Roam had shuttered. "Daniel is the most deceitful, conniving, and spineless person I know," claims Mandi. "He's incapable of telling the truth."

Location Info

Roam - CLOSED

1033 E. 17th Ave. Parkway, Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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68 comments
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Sunny
Sunny

Sounds like this guy, if all these reports are accurate, is a duplicitous fellow. But I do always find it strange how these pages often only find sympathy for the staff when restaurants close. It's unfortunate when staff has to look for a new position, but the owners are often financially ruined when their restaurants fail. Yes, they walked into a business venture with their eyes open, but the downside of failure is usually far beyond the upside of success. I suspect less than 1% of restaurants make their owners wealthy while the remaining 99% breaks their balls and misses time with family just to make an average living or lose their shirts.

This story though seemed doomed from the start

NHW
NHW

They both called the police at different times?  Because Kuhlman thought a theft was about to happen and Clement got shoved?

The taxpayers and residents of District 6 thank you dumbasses for drawing police resources away from real crime to referee your sandbox fight.  Next time, please punch each other in the face and call it a day.

Good riddance to both of you.

So sad it's funny
So sad it's funny

If someone forcefully shoved your pregnant wife, you may be inclined to call the cops...just sayin. I know I would if someone touched my wife, pregnant or not.

Actually, calling the cops is usually pointless. I think the pregnant chic shoulda taken Kuhlman out! Haha

NHW
NHW

I didn't see where it says she was forcefully shoved... but I still wouldn't call the cops because in the heat of the moment  I'd probably punch him in the face, in defense of her.... and most any expectant father would, including you. 

Then let him try to justify pushing a pregnant woman if he decided to call the cops.

Mantonat
Mantonat

The only real crimes happening away from the scene were minority teenagers being abused and/or shot by said police.

MandiClement
MandiClement

I just want to take a minute and clear some things up - Yes, I texted Lori Midson. I did not however, bribe her with guacamole. Why that has been made such an issue, I am confused, but got a laugh out of it. I ordered and paid for the guacamole. I am pregnant and hungry a lot. I needed a snack while we waited for the police for the second time. And of course, I shared. None of yesterday's events were staged or planned. I was in Golden and away from the scene when Tony informed me of the news. I was a bit frantic and unsure of what to do next...so I notified my staff, and yes, texted Lori. She seemed to be the most appropriate person to call as I have had more interaction with Lori than anyone else since the beginning of Roam. (with regards to food writers/critics) I was looking for a chance for not only our voice, but our staff's to be heard and have no regrets about doing so. I did not know when I contacted Lori that she would be joining us, but welcomed her when it was mentioned. Judge me for my freak out moment and how I reacted. It really changes nothing and I cannot expect anyone who is not directly involved with this situation to fathom what we have all been through. You have your life abruptly turned upside down and see how composed you are...and lately, after dealing with Daniel, his money troubles and past baggage, and being pregnant working 12-14 hours...well, composure has been a little short in supply. My staff worked very hard, poured their hearts into Roam, and did not deserve this treatment. They are good people, some of the best and I would not have traded any of them. As far as notifying the Denver Post, Tony attempted to as soon as we found out. Unfortunately, it went to print Monday evening and we did not even know it was supposed to run today until midnight last night. We did what we could. It would have been considerate of Daniel to let us know when the photographer came last week and he knew he'd already sold it. Such was not the case. With regards to us being gullible...we are guilty. I mean really! Who goes into business with anyone on a handshake? And despite what so many have assumed, we did not receive warning from anyone because we did not tell anyone about it until we had met with Daniel and decided to proceed. Again, a mistake on our part. Tony and I had been away from the Denver restaurant scene for a good while and were not in the loop. And anyone who knows Tony at all knows he prefers to stay to himself and not get caught up in drama...we had been enjoying our quiet life in Evergreen catering and growing veggies for ourselves. We were home for Thanksgiving when we first conversed with Kuhlman. As soon as we were back in town we met in person. The Kuhlmans presented a compelling sob story and we felt bad for them, just as Justin had. They are great at manipulating people into feeling sorry for them. I guess we learned a big lesson, one we are sad to have learned, but such is life. We have been blessed to work with and for so many good, honest, and respectable people...it kinda seemed natural to be trusting. Also, we, like Brunson, were not paid in advance in cash. I know that was Mr. Barnes' assumption. And Mr. Barnes, I do not judge your skepticism. I myself am learning to be much more skeptical after my experience with Roam and Daniel. I truly wish that things had not transpired in the dramatic fashion they did. It could have easily been avoided. Had Daniel been up front and honest about his intentions and given those involved fair notice, we would have not reacted as such. In a way, it is a relief. I am just sad and regretful for I involving so many kind and genuine people in this mess. I will miss my entire staff tremendously. I love them all and we would not have made it so far without their devotion and unconditional support. We tried...now onward.

Anything else??

FletchMonger
FletchMonger

The guac is on your hands! How can you expect anyone to be objective after you plied them with delicious avocados mixed with garlic, onions, tomatoes and lime juice??? I've woken up with a full tummy (non-baby related) covered in tortilla chips and dried crusty green guac only to find that I had written very unflattering things about the Jimmy John's down the street in some sort of manic blogging craze.This is ALL because that Subway Jared bastard snuck a dollop of guac on my nachos while I wasn't paying attention. And when you have a little guac, there's no satisfying the beast. And that Jimmy is a horrible man, he was so upset he went out and killed a dozen elephants and three leopards. Here's the proof: http://www.smilepolitely.com/s...  When will we learn?!?! Guac is devil paste.

MandiClement
MandiClement

Well said. Hahaha. You just made my day! I don't know who you are, but you are hysterical! Thanks for today's entertainment. :)

FletchMonger
FletchMonger

Just some guy who should be working harder at his real job... Glad I could bring some levity to a truly crappy situation.

Lori Midson
Lori Midson

That is the most hilarious thing ever. Thanks for the laugh!

Bob
Bob

Hey Tony & Mandi...we'd love to have you run your catering business at our commissary kitchen, Kitchen Network, 4986 Morrison Rd. 303-717-1746Bob

Cheesedude
Cheesedude

I sold some food product to wild catch way back when and that prick still owes me money. He told me before roam opened that he would be happy to pay me .50 cents towards every dollar he owed me and I have yet to see a penny. Time for Kuhlman to pack up and leave town before he gets run out.

Josh
Josh

Man, I wish you guys could out a few other scum bag operators in Denver...There's a guy opening a bowling alley on S. Broadway who seems to have a similar track record to Kuhlman's

Jpad16
Jpad16

Any servers or hosts looking for work can send their information to steph@highlandtapdenver.com.  Highland Tap and Burger is hiring a few people. 

MandiClement
MandiClement

Thank you. I'll make sure my staff knows this!

Robert Pinz
Robert Pinz

There is no problem with this story. It is simply a reporter responding to a news lead. Ms. Midson would have responded if Kuhlman had called. He didn't. And neither did he care to comment when given an opportunity. As epl obviously doesn't know, quotes are part of how one reports news. The tipping reference was a quote from an interview of those involved. That is what reporters do, they ask questions and listen. And that is what Ms. Midson would have afforded Kuhlman. It' called objectivity, which Midson has in spades. "Friendly" has no relevance. Neither does who paid for the guac. Who gives a damn! This is about a guy who abuses his employees time and time again. It's not about anything else. Let's try to keep our eyes on the ball.

epl
epl

The purpose of the story, in Westword's own words, was to report on another dramatic change at Roam/Wild Catch.  Tipping habits (as alleged by an employee who was out of a job, mind you) of the owner have nothing to do with that story, and nothing in your response suggests otherwise.  It was pure red herring and a bit lowbrow, in my opinion.  My broader point (which appears to have gone over your head) is that Westword allowed itself to serve as a PR machine for what appears (based on Ms. Midson's own writing) to be a well orchestrated incident at Roam.  To the extent the Denver Post's critic was not invited to the scene for the "urgent" situation, it appears even more as if the Clements staged the situation and called upon Ms. Midson knowing that she'd present it in a manner favorable to them (the Post had a review running this morning!  Surely it would want to know that Roam was closing and report on that as part of its story.)  I anticipate hearing the rest of the story, but for the time being, I'll avoid any businesses associated with the Clements or Mr. Kuhlman, as neither looks particularly good here. 

Lori Midson
Lori Midson

Epl: You might want to read this: blogs.denverpost.com/food/2012...

For the record, no restaurant critic with any credibility -- and that includes Bill Porter, the Post restaurant critic -- would show up to cover this type of story. Why? It's called anonymity -- something that I'm sure won't go over YOUR head.

JACook
JACook

You clearly will never understand what it feels like to be a great cook, and to have the opportunity to showcase your own style and passion on a menu! You will never understand the difference between the Brunsin's and Clement's passion, from the Kuhlmans corruption to the food industry!

Lori Midson
Lori Midson

Withholding tips from employees -- or not tipping them at all -- is absolutely relevant to Mr. Kuhlman's integrity (or lack thereof). And, yes, my understanding is that the Denver Post was notified by the Clements that Roam had closed. Keep in mind that this all occurred late yesterday afternoon. By the time the Clements were told what was happening, the Post had already gone to press, and frankly, it wasn't upto the Clements to notify the Post -- they were no longer employees; that responsibility falls upon the shoulders of the owner, who, as we know, is Mr. Kuhlman.

calhounp
calhounp

if we hear that a restaurant has closed, we go take a look -- whether it's roam or luciano's. Doesn't matter who we hear it from: We need to see for ourselves. (Sources always have motives -- some pure, some not.)

epl
epl

 Appreciate the link.  It clears up one aspect of this story (although leaves open the question of whether anyone at the Post was contacted by the Clements; it appears that the Post learned of the closure through your post last night.)  But it does not address what still remains a question of whether the Clements staged the incident as a way to get a preemptive strike on this story and whether, to the extent that's true, it was appropriate for Westword to partake in such a PR move.  I suggest that it isn't for a new outlet, although as I previously stated, I don't consider Cafe Society to be a news outlet.  This also doesn't explain what relevance one (possibly disgruntled) unemployed individual's opinion about previous tipping habits of Mr. Kuhlman has to do with this story.

Denverjan
Denverjan

This "man" Kuhlman is disgraceful.  My condolences to all the people he has exploited.  I hope they all find better jobs real soon.

epl
epl

Did the Clements also call and ask the writer of the soon-to-be-published Denver Post review to urgently get to the scene to cover the (so clearly manicured) showdown in front of Roam?  Given that the Post was about to run its review, it's reviewer would seem to have a stake in reporting the closure (at the very least so they could go to print with an accurate story.)  Also, was Ms. Midson called to the scene as a reporter or as a friend of the Clements?  And who paid for her guac at Las Margs immediately following?

Look, the problem with this story isn't that Ms. Midson was injected into it.  It's that, at least as written, it comes off a well orchestrated PR move by the Clements which Westword then decided to print (the story could have been reported in a much more innocuous way; for example, not calling out the owner as a bad tipper, which has absolutely nothing to do with the restaurant closing or the incident last night.)  It looks like the Clements got their gang together, recruited a reporter/friend they knew would be sympathetic to them, and then created an incident in front of Roam in hopes of having a media entity frame the situation in manner favorable to them.  And they succeeded.  Good for them.  Even though Kuhlman is almost certainly at fault here, I don't fault him for not talking to Westerword which was not going to be friendly towards him (see aforementioned red herring reference to his tipping practices.)

With all of that said, don't come to this blog for objective journalism.  You won't get it and you shouldn't expect it.  This blog is a propaganda source for a certain segment of the Denver service industry.  And that's ok, so long as people understand that's all this is.  If you want objective reporting (aka journalism) read the Denver Post.

Howdy
Howdy

Anyone who believes that guac from Las Margaritas is of the quality to support a bribe has no business commenting on a food blog, anywhere, about anything.

Ebethcheese
Ebethcheese

I am wondering what is Epl's interest in this story. Clearly more than Lori or any other commenter, you have a very biased point of view. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but in the interest of transparency, integrity and all those other traits you imply are lacking in the other players, you might want to come forward and explain your role in this whole thing. Bottom line, Lori Midson's job is to keep her thumb on the pulse of Denver's food scene and she does that admirably well. To hear Epl talk, they must now teach PR coups and manipulating journalists in culinary school. Come on! These guys are chefs and good one's at that. Both Clements and Bronson before him are proven culinary talents as is evidenced by the reviews they both received.

not the same joints
not the same joints

I am wondering how something is "cleverly manicured".  what?  Like the topiaries in Edward Scissorhands?  Like stripper fingernails?   Interactions among people cannot be cleverly manicured.

But that ridiculous attempt to sound smart cracks me up and makes me want to see Edwards Scissorhands again.

guest
guest

For someone who thinks the Post's coverage is so fabulous, I find it odd that you didn't see THEIR story about the situation until Lori pointed it out to you.

The Food Avenger!
The Food Avenger!

 Bribed with guacamole? How good IS the guac at Los Margs? Is it bribe-ably delicious? If so, I'm gonna stop making it at home and go get theirs--being proactive--rather than wait for someone to offer me this treat in exchange for a story about something that was already going down.

FletchMonger
FletchMonger

WHO PAID FOR THE GUAC?!?!?

not the same joints
not the same joints

Also, Lori must be a cheap date to be so easily bribed.  I would at least old out for a margarita as well.

FletchMonger
FletchMonger

There shall be no peace until guac-gate is resolved. 

Robert Pinz
Robert Pinz

I"m not in the "Biz" so this post is certainly "News" for me! Those of us who are just patrons want to know what the latest buzz is. It's how I know where to go, or not go, as is the case here. I certainly will never set foot in any establishment owned or operated by Kuhlman. Though I'd consider a dark alley! I wish him misfortune.

NumberThree
NumberThree

I heard Payton Manning was taking it over.

davebarnes
davebarnes

Three months ago, I wrote:"as consultants"Which is code for: "we are being paid, in cash, in advance, for our services".

Obviously, not far enough in advance.

Aceranchero
Aceranchero

Epic timing, with today's Post review. Maybe this guy would be better off as the personal chef for Blago—under the same roof. 

Doughboy
Doughboy

Kuhlman does sound like a piece of work, but I think this does point out how ridiculous and stupid the restaurant "business" is. You have a huge number of clueless individuals who have no idea what a profit and loss statement is, and they seem to think they can run a $1 million revenue business with no experience dealing with employees and customers.  And this includes chef-operators like the Clements who say things like "our numbers were right where they should be" which in restaurant-speak means that they were losing thousands of dollars a month.  I don't know any other "business" where losing hundreds of thousands of dollars is part of the plan, and they hope to make it up with slim or no profit margins in the out years. No wonder why people lose their cool; they are operating in a business where the most likely outcome is that they will be driven bankrupt. No excuses for violence but anyone in this business--from owners to chefs and waitstaff--should know how utterly shaky the financial underpinnings of their endeavor is.  

ComeOn
ComeOn

What is the purpose of this story?  

Daniel sounds like a real piece of work... and s^&*.... but the story seems a bit out of line... obviously there were very few patrons, so it's not a public interest story...  I'm guessing the writer and chef are friends?

Geeeeze, I hope my business never goes under so I don't get bashed in my favorite local rag.

Wake up Mr. Editor

Mike Hunt
Mike Hunt

 Why must you assume that the editor is a man, you sexist, misogynistic block of fart-smoked butt-cheese?!

Brian Melton
Brian Melton

How about 14 more people out of work because Khulman is a complete son of a bitch with no regard to staff or what's going to happen after he abruptly closes his doors? That's as good a reason as any (besides the man shoving Lori nearly to the ground) to write the piece.

Lori Midson
Lori Midson

As Ms. Editor Patty Calhoun wrote earlier today, in a separate post, "The purpose of the story? How about reporting on yet another dramatic change at one of the most troubled dining addresses in town? A change that wound up with the owner of the address trying to grab the reporter's camera? And the cops being called for the second time that day? Sounds like a story to me."

Trina
Trina

Were charges filed? Did you check? Do you cover other contentious business closings that don't involve your friends? Did he grab your camera after you stuck it in his face on his private property? Define grab. Was there any attempt to speak to him or his lawyer after he calmed down to get his side of the story, or is his side of the story irrelevant to you? I don't see any evidence of that. Did you verify that cops were there a second time, or did you take your friends' word on that? I don't see that confirmation in any way in the story, and I have been led to believe verification is a basic job of journalism. This whole story is one-sided and weird, which is probably why you and Ms. Editor are defensive about it. If I may, why is there a comma after today? "And the cops being called for the second time that day?" is what we in the educated sector call a sentence fragment. Look it up. Should I be confident, or at least hopeful, you and Ms. Editor were less reckless in reporting the first story than thinking through and using correct grammar and punctuation? Jesus. I don't even know where this restaurant is, but I can smell rotten journalism a mile away. 

HBIC
HBIC

You sound like a 17 year old girl. Grow up and stop bashing people on the internet.

CoCR
CoCR

I can't find my metaphor dictionary.  What exactly do you mean?  By the way, Roasted Midson is delicious.  I'd pair it with a nice, crisp sauvignon blanc.

Sounds like someone is familiar with litigation.  But then, every failed businessperson is.

not the same joints
not the same joints

My guess is that this is Kuhlman's wife.   But I am sure we will see a post at some point by trina emphatically claiming this is not the case.  Who else would be so invested as to take the time to write these rambling screeds?

Jeff
Jeff

I would imagine that there is a comma after the word "today" because the phrase "in a separate post" is a parenthetical element within that sentence.  You should, as they say in some circles, "look it up."

Jeff
Jeff

You're ridiculous.  Lori doesn't sound remotely angry.  And suing?  That's absurd.  In order to sue for libel, Kuhlman would have to prove that none of this ever occurred.  The burden of proof would be on him.  For all of your bluster about grammar and principles of journalism, you don't sound like a very intelligent person.  My guess is that you have a dog in this fight.  Whether you do or not, I don't imagine that a long-time professional journalist is interested in advice from your English 101 class.  No one is impressed by your histrionics but you.

Trina
Trina

One more thing, Lori, if this guy sues you, you need to be able to answer these questions and lots more better than you have so far. You're going to be roasting on a spit in the deposition. That's a metaphor. Look it up.

Trina
Trina

Oh, this is going to be fun, fun, fun. Does waving his hand and telling you to leave his property qualify as "attempting to grab," then? How close was he when this alleged attempted-grabbing took place? What did he say while this was going on? If he physically assaulted you, threatened you with violence or tried to take your personal property, why didn't you tell the cops and have him arrested? Was it because your version of this story is pretty weak and it wouldn't hold up under questioning, even in the comments section of your own article, much less in front of a judge? Is that why you're clearly still angry over it, because you can't credibly defend what you wrote? You're addressing me in a condescending, mean manner in an attempt to hurt my feelings as you sit typing. Webster defines assault as: to physically attack.  Lori Midson attempted to assault me, folks. You're all witnesses. See the difference? Why don't you tell us what happened, rather than your vague, clearly biased interpretation of what happened, Lori, and restrain yourself from insulting people who dare question your illogical series of events and questionable motives? Do you understand the difference? Your picture shows two men talking, not two men fighting, not even really two men arguing. Why didn't you publish a picture of a crazy man coming at you, unless, of course, there isn't one? Why didn't you publish a photo of the police arriving? Again, did you verify with the cops they were there twice, or did you just take the side of the people you support? Is that your interpretation of fair journalis,? Your punctuation is a mess, Lori, and you use too many cliches as crutches. Do you want me to point out the half dozen or so errors in one wordy paragraph? Don't you do this for a living? Can't report with credibility, can't write correctly, can't answer questions without getting angry. That's you.

Jeff
Jeff

A person who needs to have the word "grab" defined for them is part of "the educated sector?"

The Food Avenger!
The Food Avenger!

What you are smelling, Trina, is your own fart in a wine glass.

Amber Taufen
Amber Taufen

It's a blog post, not an academic paper. Most newspaper stories do not contain footnotes. Apparently "you in the educated sector" should pick up an actual periodical (not a peer-reviewed journal) every once in a while.

Lori Midson
Lori Midson

So glad you asked! Yes, as a matter of fact, I did try to speak to Kuhlman after this all went down. He and his wife were sitting at the bar when I knocked on the door; they turned, shook their heads and refused to budge from the bar stools. If you actually look at the photo, it's more than clear that I was nowhere near Kuhlman's face when I took that shot -- or any other shot. Oh...and we cover all closings -- contentious or otherwise. And perhaps you need glasses, because nowhere did I write that he actually grabbed my camera. I wrote that he "attempted to grab my camera." Do you understand the difference? "Grab," by the way, is defined in the dictionary. Look it up. Last but certainly not least, I do, in fact, have a photo of the police arriving for the second time. Would you like a slide show?

WonderlandPHX
WonderlandPHX

I question the wisdom of Ms. Editor to let the journalist who has become and angry part of the story then write the story in which she obviously has a vested interest. No wonder so many otherwise disinterested people find it to be one-sided and somewhat petty. It relies solely on angry people who just lost their job and an angry journalist who was just ordered off private property. Hmmmmm. Not sure who comes off looking worse here.

Mike Hunt
Mike Hunt

 It's sounds like poor Lori was the one who got bashed---literally--and like it or not, a fight in front of a restaurant by the people who own the restaurant and work in the restaurant is news.

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