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Time to Break New Ground

September 24, 2010 | Frank Bonanno

What do you see here? I see: a full restaurant, French doors, booths. Casual food & charcuterie. Families.

We met in a conference room on 17th and Lawrence today, eighteen of us in all–ten ticking well over $300 per hour–8 inches of paperwork, 4 pitchers of water, 2 pots of coffee. It should have been excruciating, but in truth, it was exhilarating. The views of Denver and the mountains beyond were amazing—a reminder of the promise of the city and why I love it here so much. “My” half of the group collected at one end of the conference table, talking restaurant reviews, crazy work stories, recent restaurant experiences. Tapping pencils. Draining cups. Just under four hours and 120 “Frank Bonanno” signatures later we had a single set of keys.

Buzzing on caffeine and nervous energy, four cars, a jeep and a van headed to what will become Lou’s. Tyler brought a bottle of champagne. Ed, the contractor arrived in time for the toast. Chris’ parents showed for congratulations. Frank Amato came with upholstery samples.

And here’s where it got really cool—twelve people ranging from 90 years to 24 –and everyone of us sharing a single vision: What This Space Could Be. The Potential. We can’t get over how clean it is for a biker bar—how well tended (excuse the pun). We admire the love that went into this business, and then we proceed to talk about the work that will go into making it ours. We discuss flow, lighting, bathroom design. Where the work stations will be, what the bar will become. We lay blueprints on the pool table and discuss fire suppression and food. We open the vending machine and munch on stale Dorito’s. I walk out back to take a look a the garage—it’s really beat up, not even big enough to really accommodate a car. That garage, that’s half pink and tagged on one side, well, that’s going to get knocked down to become the kitchen.

I think it’s every chef’s dream to be able to design your own kitchen from the foundation up. To have sinks and drains and a dishwasher in their most efficient spots. To install a walk-in that’s new and humming and will hold whatever you need at its perfect temperature. To get not only the grill and the 10-burner; the convection oven, the salamander, the flat top; . . .but to put them under a hood with strength and pull enough to accommodate them. To have air and light and space.

And I am so excited.

Today, around that pool table, I was inspired—am inspired—to become better. I saw—I see—promise. Potential. It is exhilarating.