Olivea, one of Denver's top restaurants, is closing in mid-January
After nearly four years on Seventeenth Avenue's Restaurant Row, Olivea, the intimate Mediterranean restaurant owned by husband-and-wife duo Stephanie Bonin and Keith Arnold, who also oversee Duo in Highland, will close in mid-January. The couple, who opened Olivea in May 2009, are moving to the East Coast in June.
"We made a very personal decision to move to Vermont," says Bonin, who has two young children with her husband. "We want to simplify our lives, and I grew up in Vermont, and Keith is from New Hampshire, and we just feel this incredible urge to be around family, and while selling Olivea is heartbreaking, we're really looking forward to having a different lifestyle in a small town, and sharing that experience with our girls."
But while Olivea is shuttering, the twosome won't sell Duo, which opened seven years ago in Lower Highland. "Juggling two restaurants is a challenge," admits Bonin, "but at Duo, we have the same GM, Bobby Rayburn, who's been with us for eight years, and Tyler Skrivanek, our chef de cuisine, has been with us since 2005, so we're going to keep Duo because it's a more mature restaurant than Olivea, and it requires a little less attention on our part."
And while the Bonins will no longer be in Denver to work the crowds, Bonin says that she and Arnold will continue to have a presence. "We expect to fly back at various times, and we can Skype when it comes to meetings." She notes, too, that John Broening and Yasmin Lozada-Hissom (the couple that owns Spuntino) will continue their respective roles at Duo as executive chef and pastry chef. "They were the driving force behind creating the concept of Olivea -- it was their vision, and they'll continue to write all of the menus and train the staff on each and every dish," says Bonin.
What will she Bonin miss the most? "I adore being a restaurateur," she says. "When I work the floor and interact with our guests, that's when I'm in my glory -- and I've loved being part of the growth of the Denver dining scene." She's also been involved in EatDenver, and adds that "it's been so interesting being a part of two very different neighborhood cultures."
In fact, when she and Arnold opened Duo in Lower Highland, the decision raised eyebrows. "When we decided to do Duo, people told it was a neighborhood that was on the wrong side of Federal -- that it was a huge risk -- but it's become an incredibly vibrant neighborhood, just like Uptown, and it's been so fulfilling to be a part of both," says Bonin.