Trends without end, the final round: nanobreweries, restaurant economics and the demise of mixology
What will be the big culinary trends in 2013? As we prepare for a new year in gastronomy, we posed that question to dozens of people in the local food business, everyone from chefs and pastry magicians to restaurant brokers and PR consultants, from brewers and grape gurus to realtors and pig farmers.
And while their insights and opinions are all over the map, one thing is clear: Denver's culinary scene is definitely going to be a conversation piece next year, both at home and across the country. Trend lists are like Twitter accounts: Just about everyone has one. But no one has a list as comprehensive as this...
Keeping reading for our final batch of predictions from local tastemakers.
- Trends without end, round one: Simplicity, local greens and pot (maybe)
- Trends without end, round two: Beer, beer cocktails and the whole beast
- Trends without end, round three: Vegetables, spice and Scandinavia
- Trends without end, round four: Bread, breed and Twitter fatique
- Trends without end, round five: Pickling, pop-ups and moving beyond buzzwords
- Trends without end, round six: liquid assets, flesh and fine-dining elitism
Leigh Jones, owner, Jonesy's EatBar, Horseshoe Lounge, Bar Car
On being neighborhoody: We're seeing a deepening of the desire in diners to be somewhere "where everybody knows your name." Ten years ago, when we shut the cavernous B52 Billiards, I believed a lot of it was due to the rise of the neighborhood bar in Denver. Now you can go to a world-class restaurant like the Kitchen or the Squeaky Bean and still feel like you're one of the guys...a regular on your first visit. I believe this warmth is what will separate the successes from the failures in our industry as we move forward.
On nanobreweries: I love the trend of the nanobrewery in the Colorado craft beer industry. These guys are the classic example of a slab of concrete plus a keg of good beer plus a friendly bartender adding up to success. Even cooler is watching the big guys like Left Hand or Oskar Blues show so much support and camaraderie to these newcomers; it's really fun to watch. I'd really love to see our winemakers follow their lead.
On looking out for one another: I think for the insiders in the Denver restaurant scene, that feeling of wanting to support each other, cheer for each other and cook together whenever possible is only going to get bigger and better. I want to believe that other towns follow this road map, but I just know in my heart and gut that what we have here is truly something special.
John Imbergamo, president, The Imbergamo Group
On restaurant economics: 2013 makes me nervous. It very well might be a troubled financial year for Denver's restaurant industry, predominantly from the cost side of the business. Increases in commodity prices will continue to rise in 2013, as we reap what we did not sow in 2012. While the full hit of the Affordable Health Care Act will not hit restaurants until January 2014, operators must analyze its impact in 2013 and make staffing and pricing decisions accordingly. The de-Brucing passed by Denver voters will significantly increase restaurants' real-estate property taxes in the City and County, and the solution won't be as simple as raising prices in this increasingly competitive environment. Restaurateurs will need to creatively massage their offerings, pricing, staffing and profit structure to stay in business.