Max MacKissock on exiting the Squeaky Bean: "It's 1,000 percent my decision"

Categories: Cafe Society

Lori Midson
Max McKissock, exec chef of the Squeaky Bean, is departing.

Early this morning, I got word that the Squeaky Bean, easily one of the most talked about -- and vaunted -- restaurants in Denver, would soon become a restaurant that was about to undergo some changes. And these weren't small, insignificant changes; they were major changes.

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The fluctuations, however, actually started several months ago, when Crickett Burns, who had cooked alongside executive chef Max MacKissock for eight years, most of them at the former Squeaky Bean, was leaving her post to command the kitchen at the Truffle Table; in late July, barman and Westword's regular Ask a Bartender columnist Sean Kenyon, who also co-owns Williams & Graham, stepped away from his stick behind the Squeaky Bean's bar, he says, "to devote more time to Williams & Graham," which has been the recipient of too many awards to count. And just a few weeks ago, Nick Touch, Squeaky Bean's bar manager, left, too.

And now MacKissock, a brilliant chef, along with general manager Stephen Gallic -- one of the best front-of-the-house professionals in Denver -- are ending their tenure at the Squeaky Bean. "I gave my initial notice four or five months ago," says MacKissock, recalling that he told Johnny Ballen, who owns the Squeaky Bean, that "this isn't going to be my life; I don't want to be here forever." MacKissock didn't give Ballen a specific departure date -- and he's still not sure how much longer he'll be behind the burners -- but, he says, he made it clear to him that he was, in fact, leaving.

Then, two weeks ago, MacKissock reiterated that sentiment, telling Ballen that the time had come for him to hire another chef. "My job was never in jeopardy, nor was my performance," stresses MacKissock, who insists, in no uncertain terms, that his imminent departure is "1,000 percent my decision."

Not that it's an easy decision. "The hardest part is leaving behind a crew that's been the best crew, bar none, that I've ever worked with; they're all incredibly talented," says MacKissock. "From the time we opened this location to now, it's really come together, and I can't even begin to tell you how much I've learned from everyone."

Nonetheless, MacKissock isn't afraid to point out the truth behind his departure: "I'm just not happy," he admits. "I want to get out and pursue other ventures with a partner that has the same vision as I do -- a clear vision that makes me feel more comfortable."

Location Info

Squeaky Bean

1500 Wynkoop St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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one things for sure, Max is no mathematician.


This sucks, but Johnny Ballen doesn't know beans about running a restaurant. Everyone who works at the Bean knows this. Max and Steve won't be the last to leave. The real exodus has yet to come. Max will kill it wherever he ends up. Johnny will just continue to be a pain the ass. Theo would be crazy to take a job working for him. Don't do it, man!


Great article Lori!  I am supremely confident that Max will do something extraordinary very soon.

davebarnes topcommenter

Unless you vault over the competition.

Or the ceilings are really high.

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