Anika Zappe named bar manager of Punch Bowl Social, Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar and Argyll
It took two and a half years, but Robert Thompson, the restaurateur behind Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar, the former Argyll and Punch Bowl Social, finally got his wish: Anika Zappe, one of the most respected and high-profile bartenders in Denver, Thompson told me today, is now the beverage director for all of his properties.
"Anika and I started talking casually over two years ago, when we still had Argyll in Cherry Creek, and while the timing wasn't right then, I've known all along that she was the right person for this job -- she's a retired rocker, a great mom and a great mixologist, and she rounds out our high-level team," says Thompson, adding that his other key players are chef Sergio Romero and general manager Mike Pacovski, who will soon become the VP of operations. "I think about the Anika situation," explains Thompson, "the same way the Supreme Court describes pornography: It's hard for me to articulate what porn is, but I know it when I see it. It's hard to detail all the reasons why Anika is the perfect beverage director for me, but I knew it when I met her."
Zappe, who was the opening bar manager at Linger, quit that gig last October, the same month she had a baby, and for the past several months, she's been consulting, homesteading, teaching cocktail classes to guests of the Quintess Luxury Vacation Club and guest bartending at the Coupe Bar inside Ghost Plate & Tavern. But she and Thompson had kept in touch since they first started conversing about cocktails, and just over a month go, Zappe picked up the phone and called Thompson to check on the progress of Punch Bowl Social, which will open in July with a breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant combined with a bowling alley, java joint and three bars; in addition, Thompson is opening a second Punch Bowl in Portland, Oregon in October and currently scouting locations to reopen Argyll.
"I wasn't really looking for a job when I called Robert -- I just wanted to know how everything was going and who he'd hired to manage the beverage program. He said that he'd hadn't filled the position yet and asked if I was interested," recalls Zappe. And this time, she was. "Punch Bowl is a super-fun, super-creative concept -- it's like the Celebrity Sports Center for adults -- and after talking with Robert, Sergio and Mike, I saw how much open-mindedness and innovation was going on here, and I really thrive in that kind of environment. It was the perfect fit."