HuHot Expands Into Fast Casual Market With Upcoming NuHu Mongolian Express

Mark Antonation
The new NuHu opening in February in the Golden Triangle.
HuHot Mongolian Grill started in Missoula, Montana more than fifteen years ago and has been stirring up Asian-inspired meals at three metro-area locations for the past several years. Now the company is jumping into the fast-casual game, with a new concept called NuHu Mongolian Express, slated to open in the Golden Triangle on February 12. Similar to HuHot, customers at NuHu will be able to select from a multitude of fresh ingredients and houses sauces, but will be able to point, order and receive their food after it's cooked in front of them by one of NuHu's "grill warriors."

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Jeff Osaka Plans a Second Osaka Ramen, a Sushi Bar and a Gourmet Marketplace

Lori Midson
Jeff Osaka cooks up a batch of ramen at a recent event at 2601 Larimer, the site of his upcoming Sushi-Rama.
Excitement has been building over the past few months as ramen fans have watched the progress of Osaka Ramen in River North; it's Jeff Osaka's first restaurant venture since he closed Twelve on Larimer Street late last summer. Now there's even more to look forward to: a second Osaka Ramen is also in the works. The chef just signed a lease to take over the space last occupied by Ay Caramba, the torteria that closed last fall in Cherry Creek North. The goal is for the RiNo noodle shop to start serving in March and for the second location to debut in April. Osaka is also opening Sushi-Rama, a sushi bar with conveyer-belt delivered dishes (called kaiten-zushi), just a block away from the Osaka Ramen in RiNo.

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Old Santa Fe Mexican Grille to Take Over Former Zocalo Spot

Mark Antonation
There are signs of activity at the former Zocalo Restaurant and Bar.
Zocalo Restaurant and Bar went dark on East 11th Avenue in August after being seized by the Colorado Department of Revenue for unpaid taxes. There haven't been many signs of life since an auction in early September, but now a sign has appeared in the window indicating that the space will become Old Santa Fe Mexican Grille.
See also: Ristorante Lo Stella to Open in Gallo di Nero Location in Golden Triangle

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Avanti Food & Beverage Will Offer Seven Kitchens, Two Bars in One LoHi Building

Mark Antonation
Avanti Food & Beverage will house seven fast-casual start-ups and two bars.
It doesn't look like much now, but in a few months Avanti Food & Beverage could be the hottest new restaurant and bar collective in the city. Being created in an old printing building on a hill with views of Coors Field, downtown and the the LoHi neighborhood, Avanti will feature seven shipping container "pods" with kitchens run by new ventures as well as some of Denver's top chefs. So far, five of the seven leases have been signed and a deal with Dogfish Head Brewing from Delaware has been set so that brewery owner Sam Calagione will provide ten of his own beers on tap while curating a list of ten additional taps from Colorado breweries.

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Elevation Charcuterie & Artisan Meats Aiming for March Opening

Elevation Charcuterie
Butcher Chad Nelan has been working to perfect his sausage and cured meat recipes for the past two years, making it his sole focus over the past few months after leaving his job at Tony's Market. His goal is to open his own company, Elevation Charcuterie and Artisan Meats, by March next year to supply several varieties of salami, pancetta, lonza, coppa, culatello and other cured meats to restaurants, grocery stores and specialty markets in Denver and across the country. To help fund the program, Nelan and partner Alex Windes launched a Kickstarter campaign this week to help build a USDA-approved production facility.

See also: Butcher's Bistro Opens in Former Twelve Location

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Fractured Prune Doughnuts Set to Break Into the Denver Market

Doughnuts have become a big business in Denver since Dunkin' Donuts made a comeback in Colorado and Voodoo Doughnut opened its first non-Oregon store on East Colfax last year. Now a new national player in the fried-dough game is coming to Denver -- and it may just have the worst name of any eatery around. Fractured Prune Doughnuts, a chain out of Ocean City, Maryland, will open its first Denver shop on South Colorado Boulevard in late January or early February, according to a Fractured Prune spokesperson. The company has a story to go with that name, though, and a unique way of serving doughnuts.

See also: The Ten Worst Restaurant Names in Denver

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Brik on York to Open in Former Movie House on Colfax

Mark Antonation
Over the last century, the space at 2223 East Colfax Avenue has been a movie theater and a watch-repair shop and not much else. But the watch shop closed earlier this year when the 92-year-old owner retired after four decades in business, and wine aficionado Travis Gee decide it was time for something new. With a level-two certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers and extensive travels in many of the world's great wine-producing regions, Gee realized he wanted to share his knowledge and travels by opening a wine bar with a neighborhood vibe and a wood-burning pizza oven. Construction on his new eatery, Brik on York, began earlier this fall; he plans to have the doors open to the public by March of 2015.

See also: Berkeley Untapped takes over former wine bar on Tennyson

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The Snarf's Empire Expands With a New Sandwich Shop Opening on 38th Avenue

Mark Antonation
Snarf's doesn't often come up on the list of Colorado's fast-casual exports. While the image of the the a funky little sandwich shop that started in Boulder in 1996 under the guidance of sandwich fanatic Jim Seidel is still important to the company, Snarf's has slowly been infiltrating Denver's neighborhoods -- and beyond. With the most recent branch of Snarf's set to open at 38th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard in the next few weeks, the list has grown to 21 current and under-construction locations, with eight of those outside of Colorado -- Austin, Chicago and St. Louis, to be exact.

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Stout Street Social Preps for Early December Opening

Mark Antonation
The push is on for new restaurants to open before year-end. While Thanksgiving week is generally a quiet time, two anticipated eateries -- D Bar and Blackbird -- are swinging their doors open to customers this week. A flurry of activity should bring in at least a few others in the coming month, including Stout Street Social, which plans to open its expansive, 250-seat space on the ground floor of the Embassy Suites -- directly across the street from the Colorado Convention Center -- on December 9. Stout Street Social is the latest from Frank Day's Concept Restaurants, the restaurant group that also operates Humboldt, Ignite Burgers & Lounge and the Rialto Cafe.

See also: Blackbird Takes Flight by West Washington Park

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Denver Diner Remodeling, With "Grand Re-Opening Coming Soon"

The Denver Diner has been an institution for decades, one of the few 24/7 spots around, a hang-out for people coming off work or a night of partying. But the place has been closed since October 12, after an early-morning fire cleared the room. The Denver Diner is still wrapped up tight, but there are signs that the joint will be sticking around for decades to come -- although perhaps with a new look.

See also: Fire Closes Denver Diner -- For Now

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