Sneak Peek: Work & Class opens Wednesday in RiNo
All photos by Lori Midson.
Early last spring, Delores Tronco and her boyfriend, Tony Maciag, both of whom are Denver restaurant industry veterans, signed on the dotted line, inking a lease that would make them the owners of their own restaurant -- a restaurant, says Tronco, whose name is also synonymous with the Justice League of Street Food, that was built on a leap of faith. "There is no backup plan. Tony and I put everything we have on the line, even clearing out our savings account to do this, but we believe in this restaurant, so we took the leap, leveraging everything we had to take a good, calculated risk," says Tronco, adding, too, that while she and Maciag had financial assistance, there's no rich uncle harboring gold coins in a safe. "We have no angel investors. Everyone who helped us get this restaurant open -- they're all friends, family members and people that we've worked with who did this because they believed in it and wanted to invest money in something that was more personal than the stock market."
The culmination of their efforts will be unveiled to the public on Wednesday, when Tronco, Maciag and chef-partner Dana Rodriguez, the former exec chef of Bistro Vendome, open Work & Class in a 1,468-square-foot space at Broadway and Larimer, a mixed-use shipping-container project that's pioneered by Denver-based Gravitas Development Group.
"Tony, Dana and I have no ulterior motives; what you see is what you get, and if I were to talk about what it's like to open a restaurant, I'd compare it to sedimentary rock: There are just so, so many layers," says Tronco, noting that when she pitched the concept to Ryan Diggins, her landlord -- and founder of Gravitas Development Group -- she knew it was "sink or swim."
And she credits her staff, her investors and Kevin Morrison, who owns Pinche Tacos, where Tronco was a server before leaving in November of last year to concentrate solely on Work & Class, for giving her and Maciag the momentum to persevere. "While you realize that you know more than you thought you knew, whatever you don't know, you find someone to teach you, and people like Kevin, who first told us about this space, have been so generous with their time and advice that we couldn't have done this without them," she says, sweeping her arms around the dining room of Work & Class, which epitomizes a neighborhood restaurant that was clearly crafted with love, passion, personalization and whimsical creativity.
Above the antiquated, glass-topped hostess stand hangs a bright-orange series of four words, all starting with "Now Serving Good..." The last word in the phrase -- "beer," "meat," "pork," "donut" and "masa" among them -- is the word assigned to guests waiting for a table, so instead of the hostess writing down your name on a clipboard, you'll know your table is ready when the word you've been assigned pops up on the sign. It's clever, and just one of many details that makes Work & Class really stand out.