Lena, a Latin restaurant from the owners of Prohibition, will open on Broadway
If there's one thing we know about 2014, it's that Denver will be be a banner year of restaurant openings, and Jimmy Callahan, who owns Prohibition on East Colfax, is just one of dozens of restaurateurs and bar owners who's making sure that we're not exaggerating. Callahan, along with his chef at Prohibition, Toby Prout, are opening Leña (the name means "firewood" in Spanish), a two-tiered Latin restaurant, in late May/early June at 24 Broadway, in the former space of Lee Alex Modern Vintage.
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"We started looking for something new about a year and a half ago, and when my my real estate person showed me the Broadway spot late last year, I knew it was the right space; I knew this was the one, says Callahan. "I love the fact that were not by ourselves -- that there are lots of other bars and restaurants on the same block; I like the walkability factor and the street exposure; and the space itself, with its tin ceiling and mezzanine, is absolutely beautiful," he adds.
And while it's a build-out, Callahan says that he'll preserve what he can, including the weathered hardwood floors. "The floors are in good shape, so we're leaving those, but we're exposing the brick on one of the walls and adding garage doors, and we're putting in a twenty-foot bar, a communal table, high tops and banquettes, plus we'll have seating both upstairs and downstairs, and at the bar," he notes, adding that, in total, he'll have just over 100 seats. "That's our sweet spot -- it's not to big, and it's not too small."
Callahan will oversee the front of the house, while Prout, who also did time at Izakaya Den, Prima, Kevin Taylor's at the Opera House, and in Florida, where he worked at the Rtiz-Carlton and for celebrity chef Norman Van Aken, will command the kitchen -- a kitchen that will focus on Latin cuisine. "Toby and I recently went to San Francisco to check out some Latin restaurants, including Nopalito, an incredible restaurant that even grinds its own corn for its tortillas, and while we were initially looking at both a Latin concept and a casual-Italian concept, the trip to San Francisco sealed the deal for us, and we think, too, that the Broadway location lends itself to a Latin restaurant, especially since there's nothing else similar in that neighborhood," he says.
"We're still in developmental menu stages, but the emphasis will be on a wood-fired grill, which will be the centerpiece of the kitchen," says Prout, who will be joined in the kitchen by Prohibition sous chef Jerry Mansfield. His food, he adds, will bend toward techniques that favor asado -- the standard Argentinian term for both a social gathering and barbecue.