Over the weekend, I finally reached Tom Moxcey, Elway's manager and expert floorman, to see how the second Elway's going into the new Ritz-Carlton Denver on Curtis Street will affect the original Cherry Creek location. "So you sound like you're having a good day," I told him.
"It's a good day," Moxcey agreed. "It's been.... It's been something."
As we talked, Moxcey cleared up some of the details.
For example, Charles Schwerd, who was standing the Elway's chef post until the hiring of Tyler Wiard last year, is now on the books as a "corporate chef" -- handling big-picture stuff for partner Tim Schmidt, who also owns the Hacienda Colorado chain. Wiard is down as executive chef at Elway's -- and will remain so even after the downtown opening.
The R-C will hire its own guys to staff the new Elway's kitchen, putting corporate blood into the line to insure consistency. And while the menus at that Elway's will be based on the menus at the original Elway's, they will also include some Ritz-Carlton standards: vegetarian plates, room-service-ready entrees and the like. None of this is particularly strange; hotel restaurants operating under corporate flags are often forced into the liminal area between creativity and conformity. What is a little unusual, Moxcey concedes, is that when the R-C corporate chefs are ready to start crafting a final version of the new Elway's menu, Wiard will be in on the development.
As for how the deal came down, that's that's a story straight out of Restaurant Business 101.
Charlie Biederman, developer of the J.W. Marriott in Cherry Creek, was talking to the Ritz folks about the possibility of a downtown hotel. And when they were in town last summer looking for a place to eat and talk about the possibilities with Biederman, he took them to Elway's.
Soon after, he cut the deal with the Ritz execs for the downtown hotel he's now developing. And not much long after that, "They came a-knockin'" on Elway's door, said Moxcey, laughing at the way it'd all worked out. -- Jason Sheehan