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Penny Parker On The Town: Hotel Monaco and Panzano Restaurant celebrating civil unions

In celebration of Colorado passing the Civil Unions Act, long-time supporters of the LGBT community, Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Denver and Panzano Restaurant will award one couple with an all-expenses paid “Civil Unions Celebration” for up to 50 guests at the hotel and award-winning restaurant.

Everything for the ceremony and reception will be included, and the total package will be worth nearly $20,000. The package includes flowers, photographer, dance floor and honeymoon suite.

Panzano executive chef Elise Wiggins said, “This amazing occasion calls for an amazing menu. I will personally work with the winning couple to create a menu that reflects this historic occasion and their personal dreams.”

Couples interested in entering the giveaway should send their love story in 100 words or less, plus a photo, to robin.ewing@hotelmonaco.com by April 26. A panel of judges will review the submissions and select up to five finalists.

The winning couple will be announced on May 15, and the ceremony will take place before Nov. 30. Interested parties can go to www.monaco-denver.com/civil-union-celebration-giveaway.html for contest details and rules.

Manager Josh Mayo adds a personal touch for Panzano Restaurant guests. Panzano and Hotel Monaco Denver will award one couple with an all-expenses paid "Civil Unions Celebration" for up to 50 guests at the hotel and award-winning restaurant. (photo courtesy of Panzano)


Clothing store closing

Mario DiLeone’s men’s clothing store at 2820 E. Third Avenue (http://cherrycreeknorth.com/shop/details/mario-dileone-mens-store/) is closing. His women’s store in Cherry Creek North and his store in Aspen will remain open. He opened the Aspen store three years ago.

Mario Di Leone, formerly Uomo Elegante, opened in 1979 in Boulder, by an ex-architect with a vision to convert Colorado men from wearing jeans and T-shirts to high fashion Italian clothing.

The success was immense. So in 1981 he added a ladies collection and opened his second store in Cherry Creek. Being an architect and having respect for proportion and design he decided to go over the top and started working with master couturiers such as Gianfranco Ferre and Gianni Versace.

Derby Day

Join the fans and friends of Mariel, the darling women’s boutique at 3000 E. Third Ave., and Castles Home Décor next door for a Derby Day Party, from 2 to 6 p.m. May 4, a benefit for the Volunteers of America Guild.

Watch the Kentucky Derby while shopping at these two beautiful boutiques and enjoy music and mint juleps. In the spirit of the Derby, wear your fanciest hat. Prizes will be given for the smartest chapeaux.

Ten percent of purchases that day will be donated to The Guild Brandon Career Closet. RSVP to Mariel, 303-623-1152, or to Castles Home Décor at 303-989-0801.

New exec chef at The Walnut Room

The Walnut Room, a Denver-based pizzeria and music venue, has appointed Jonah Munson as executive chef. Munson will handle menu creation and will oversee the kitchens at The Walnut Room in Denver’s River North neighborhood and the South Broadway location.

His appointment marks the first time that The Walnut Room has employed an executive chef. Munson, a restaurant industry veteran, most recently served as Marczyk’s Fine Foods bakery manager.

“With his experience and culinary expertise, Jonah is a perfect fit for The Walnut Room,” said Leslie Odell, director of operations of The Walnut Room. “He really understands our business and will allow us to expand our menu to include exciting new offerings.”

An Atlanta native, Munson has been baking since college. For more information, go to www.thewalnutroom.com.

Jonah Munson is the new executive chef of The Walnut Room. Brunson most recently served as Marczyk's Fine Foods bakery manager. (photo courtesy of The Walnut Room)


More restaurant news…

* The Aurora Summit at Havana and Yale in Aurora is running a free six-ounce lobster tail promotion through May 9.

Receive a free petite lobster tail with a purchase of any Summit steak entrée at lunch or dinner all week long.

Happy hour, every day from 3 to 7 p.m., features 50 percent off all cocktails, beer, wine and premium brands. Piano bar entertainment from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

More information at www.aurorasummit.com.

* Coohills, the French-inspired eatery at 1400 Wewatta, has added children’s pricing for kids age 10 and under (at $10 apiece) on the Mother’s Day Buffet Station Brunch.

The brunch is buffet-style with these stations: fresh-baked croissants and granola, eggs or omelets featuring red wine poached organic Eggs Benedict, frittatas and quiche, pit ham and roasted turkey and pastries and desserts.

The brunch runs from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. on May 12. Cost is $30 per adult plus tax, gratuity and additional beverages. Prices includes coffee and hot tea. Reservations at www.coohills.com/reservations or by calling 303-623-5700.

* EDGE Restaurant inside The Four Seasons Hotel Denver (14th and Arapahoe) is introducing a new seasonal menu that highlights fresh spring ingredients. Many of the EDGE popular menu items have been updated with the new finishing touches that are reflective of the season.

New menu highlights include the EDGE version of a Manhattan with halibut, crab, tomato and grilled ciabatta, and the chilled English pea soup with spring mint and lemon crème fraiche.

Appetizers include seared scallops with crimson lentils and English peas, and foie gras PB&J with cashew butter, passion fruit and brioche.

More than 20 items on the EDGE diner menu are gluten free, including the Kobe Beef or Ahi Tuna Hot Stone appetizer, the roasted baby candy striped beet salad, the arugula and watercress salad and several side dishes.

New desserts include the mountain berry panna cotta with honey-lime blackberries and sugar crisp, the EDGE snowball with coconut ice cream, strawberry meringue and chocolate flourless cake, as well as the the red velvet doughnettes with an orange glaze and cinnamon cream cheese dip.

EDGE also has a new chef – Meredith Manee who joins the restaurant from Culina Modern Italian Restaurant at The Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills.

Manee worked for Culina since its opening in 2010. She will work alongside the hotel’s opening executive chef Simon Purvis.

* Lechuga’s Italian Restaurant & Lounge, the red-sauce joint at 3609 Tejon St., is for sale for $3 million. A gal pal of mine, Juanita Chacon, who loved that place, has the listing. Contact Chacon at 720-297-3005 or at juanitachacon@remax.net.

Westword founder and editor Patty Calhoun, has the story at http://blogs.westword.com/cafesociety/2013/04/a_river_of_red_sauce.php.


Note: Cold Crush, the restaurant/nightclub I told you about recently that was supposed to open with a party last week at 2700 Larimer St. in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood, has delayed its opening due to construction issues.

Stay tuned for a new opening date.

Eavesdropping on a woman watching the news: “If you’re a criminal, don’t get tattoos. That will give you up.”

Did you hear that I have a new column, “Mile High Life,” in Colorado Community Media’s 17 weekly newspapers circling Denver? Be sure to like my Facebook page! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m now the social-media liaison for the Mile High Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, so read my latest restaurant news there. My email: penny@blacktie-llc.com.

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Penny Parker On The Town: Elway’s on the patio is the place to be during the summer

The hottest patio of the season is Elway’s at Cherry Creek – no doubt, no argument.

Elway’s Cherry Creek summer concerts return with live music, cocktails, the signature menu and beautiful Colorado evenings in the Elway’s backyard starting June 19.

These wildly popular outdoor concerts play each Wednesday night from mid-June through late August including the return of the Railbenders to the Summer Music Series and a special July 3 celebration of Independence Day for 2013 featuring local legends The Samples along with special food and cocktails.

A combination of last year’s favorite bands, the return of one high-profile favorite and a few new acts are on this year’s lineup. perennial favorite The Railbenders bring their outlaw country sound to the Elway’s patio June 26.

Appearing this year are several tribute bands including Message in a Bottle, covering The Police; Forever in Blue Jeans, channeling Neil Diamond standards ; and Under a Blood Red Sky, who rock out U2 hits.

The brotherly harmonies of Something Underground takes stage on July 10. And newcomers, Justin Lane Band, will bring hard-hitting country to the backyard while all-girl band The Trishas deal a combination of tight four-part harmonies in an eclectic soulful sound.

Fans of funk will enjoy Funkiphino, and That Eighties Band promises their namesake rock.

The full schedule is:

June 19 – Message in a Bottle

June 26 – The Railbenders

July 3 – The Samples

July 10 – Something Underground

July 17 – The Justin Lane Band

July 24 – The Trishas

July 31 – That Eighties Band

Aug. 7 – Forever in Blue Jeans

Aug. 14 – Funkiphino

Aug. 21 – Under a Blood Red Sky.

Elway’s backyard opens at 5 p.m., bands play from 6:30 to 9 p.m. For more information, go to www.elways.com or call 303-399-5353.

Tending Tender Belly

Tender Belly, a Colorado-based company that provides the finest pork and cured meats, are selling their products in Tony’s Markets throughout the area Denver Metro locations.

Chef Mick Rosacci of Tony’s Markets said, “Tender Belly is hands down the finest line of pork products I have ever tasted. We’re honored to have some of the area’s savviest foodies shopping our markets, and they’ve made it abundantly clear they can taste the superior quality of these artisan pork products and want them available every day.”

Prices are:

Maple bacon in bulk for $8.98 per pound; habanero bacon in bulk for $9.98 per pound, porterhouse chops for $14.99 per pound, Berkshire boneless shoulder roast for $9.98 per pound and ham for $7.98 per pound.

Tapping in Taphouse

This week Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center announced the grand opening of its $5 million hotel renovation which includes the new signature restaurant, Root25 Taphouse & Kitchen, as well as a redesigned lobby, guest reception and public spaces.

The celebration includes culinary showcases with Colorado purveyors of local and regional ingredients reflected in the new Root25 Taphouse & Kitchen restaurant concept.

The gastro-pub menu and beer selections give a nod to historic recipes from Colorado pubs, bistros and watering holes. The restaurant space also features several private dining areas that can accommodate groups of 10 to 30 people.

“We are excited to introduce Root25 Taphouse & Kitchen to our guests and the local community,” said Ben Hardaway, director of food and beverage at Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center. “The Taphouse is all about the beers. We feature Colorado craft beer such as Avery and O’Dell’s, as well as craft spirits from the region. The Root25 Taphouse & Kitchen team works with some of Colorado’s best-known local purveyors, including Lombardi Brothers, Haystack Mountain Goat Daily and Udi’s artisan bread.

Haven of hope

Father Woody’s Haven of Hope will honor Rev. Michael J. Sheeran as the 23rd president of Regis University with the 2013 Father Woody’s Humanitarian Award.

The award will be presented to Rev. Sheeran during the third annual Haven of Hope fundraising dinner benefiting the underserved men, women and children in metro Denver.

The dinner will be held May 9 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the new History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway. Master of ceremonies is Denver’s Channel 7 investigative reporter John Ferrugia.

The event includes catered cuisine and silent and live auctions. Tickets are $150 per person, and the deadline is May 1. For more information: Don Gallegos at 303-550-5788; or don.gallegos@gmail.com.

Kachina restaurant rocks

Spring is in the air at Kachina Southwestern Grill in Westminster. The doors to the patio are open bartenders are whipping up fresh margaritas and guests are enjoying thee sunshine and cool breezes.

To celebrate the change in season, Kachina will host a spring planting moon party on April 26, featuring live music on the patio, hands-on planting for children in the Taos Lounge, and a celebratory menu featuring seeds for the weekend.

From April 26 through April 28, the chef and butcher menu will be replaced by a seasonal seed planting menu in honor of spring. Dishes will include organic greens with chia seed vinaigrette, watermelon radish and candied sunflower seeds; grilled gulf shrimp with pepita seed mole, pickled cabbage and corn tortillas and grilled pork tenderloin with corn and Anaheim chile, flaxseed pudding and pasado demi-glace.

For reservations and more information go to www.kachinagrill.com or call 303-410-5813. Kachina Southwestern Grill is located inside the Westin Westminster at 10600 Westminster Blvd.

Eavesdropping on a couple celebrating the end of tax season on April 15 at Earl’s in Cherry Creek: The waitress asked the gentleman who was drinking wine, “Can I bring you another glass?”
“Certainly. Can you put something in it?”

Did you hear that I have a new column, “Mile High Life,” in Colorado Community Media’s 17 weekly newspapers circling Denver? Be sure to like my Facebook page! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m now the social-media liaison for the Mile High Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, so read my latest restaurant news there. My email: penny@blacktie-llc.com.

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Penny Parker On The Town: Duck Dynasty stars flying into Castle Rock

The Rock Christian Academy in Castle Rock has bagged Phil and Willie Robertson, two of the stars of the wildly popular “Duck Dynasty,” A&E’s reality series, for a speaking engagement and fundraiser beginning at 6:30 p.m. May 19 at The Douglas County Events Center.

Event organizer and Rock Academy parent Michael Brumbaugh took dead aim at the Robertson clan months ago by contacting the family’s agent and refusing to give up. His persistence paid off.

Phil and Willie will speak about “Faith, testimony, business, the importance of raising children with biblical principles and a Christian education.”

“We need to do a big event every year to continue to fund the scholarship fund,” Brumbaugh said. “I thought about it for a couple of months, then started watching ‘Duck Dynasty’. I thought, ‘These guys are great! I wonder if they do speaking engagements since they come from a Christian family?’”

The persistent parent hounded the agent until he got a “confirmed” answer. “When your heart is in something and you believe in something as strong as the Rock Academy, and how God is moving in that school, you fight for what you believe in,” he said. “This year God blessed us with ‘Duck Dynasty.’”

With 8.6 million viewers, A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” is the highest-rated reality show on cable TV. The money raised from the event’s ticket sales will help fund a 10,000-square-foot expansion of the existing building, build the school’s playground and provide financial aid and scholarships to families who can’t afford the $4,700 annual tuition.

VIP tickets (with a pre-event meet and greet) are $150; other tickets are $60 for general admission to $80 for “gold seating” right behind the VIP seats.

 “Duck Dynasty” stars Willie Robertson, top, and his dad, Phil, above, will speak at the Rock Christian Academy in Castle Rock on May 19. (A&E network photos)


Die-hard dancing Dyer

He didn’t win, but he nearly died trying. Denver philanthropist and Bouquets flowers owner BJ Dyer donned his dancing shoes and black tux to dance with partner and Colorado Ballet’s professional ballerina Casey Dalton Saturday night to compete in Dancing With Our Stars, part of Balletto di Gala, a benefit for the Colorado Ballet’s education and outreach programs.

Community leaders were paired with pro dancers to give a short performance of traditional ballroom dances such as tango, waltz, samba and more.

Each pair spent roughly six to eight hours in rehearsal and dance lessons to create a routine. The dancing amateurs were: Holly Baroway, VP investments, Stifel Nicolaus and Company, Inc.; Amelia Earhart, 9News reporter; Kathy Konopka, Denver Ballet Guild incoming president; Terri Lombardi, actress/wife of CBS4 sports anchor Vic Lombardi; Joe Maslowski, Colorado manager, Key Private Bank; Scott Sax, VP First Choice Bank/First Choice Investments; Douglas Tisdale, Cherry Hills Village mayor and Dyer.

Baroway and Colorado Ballet dancer Jesse Marks won the coveted “mirror ball trophy,” so to speak.

Though Dyer didn’t end up a dancing trophy, he did leave with his dignity in tact.

“The choreographers (said) that I had the most complicated choreography of the eight dances, as well as the most tricks (I flipped Casey over my arm, swept her through my legs, bounced her off both hips, caught her in a mid-air jump, etc. etc.),” Dyer said. “This is work for a 25-year-old, and I’m twice that. It was loads of fun, but the body didn’t recover as quickly after rehearsals as I expected. Yup … dang middle age.”

Nonetheless, Dyer played the Fred Astaire part by dancing jive to “Puttin’ on The Ritz” (the remix disco version) at The Ritz-Carlton Denver.

“The biggest winner was The Ballet, raising $140,000,” Dyer said. “I have a raised respect for the dancers and their talent. Dancing is tough on the body.”

Denver philanthropist and Bouquets flowers owner BJ Dyer, right, teamed with ballerina Casey Dalton Saturday night in Dancing With Our Stars, part of Balletto di Gala, a benefit for the Colorado Ballet’s education and outreach programs.


Dine out on April 25 

Denver-native and Project Runway All-Star winner Mondo Guerra is Dining Out for Life in Denver on April 25, and so should you.

“Dining Out for Life is our opportunity to celebrate friends, food and being truly fabulous in helping others,” says the designer, who revealed his HIV-positive status on Runway and has since become a forerunner in HIV/AIDS advocacy.

With 300 participating restaurants all over metro-Denver and Boulder donating 25 percent of the day’s sales to Project Angel Heart, there are no excuses for not dining out. So grab your family and friends and make plans to go out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner on April 25.

For a complete list of participating restaurants, go to http://www.diningoutforlife.com/denver/restaurants.

Mittleman’s da man

Carl Mittleman, regional vice president for Aramark Sports and Entertainment, a provider of hospitality services at more than 150 sports and entertainment venues throughout North America (including the Pepsi Center and Coors Field), has been selected as a recipient of the “SportsBusiness Journal” Forty Under 40 Award in the Class of 2013.

The prestigious award recognizes the best and the brightest of the rising generation in sports business under the age of 40. Mittleman received the award at a ceremony earlier this month in Naples, Fla.

“Carl’s passion for and dedication to enhancing the fan experience have been instrumental in helping position Aramark as a leading hospitality partner in the sports and entertainment industry,” said Marc Bruno, president of Aramark Sports and Entertainment and a member of the Forty Under 40 Class of 2010. “This well-deserved honor not only recognizes Carl’s industry contributions, but celebrates Aramark’s commitment to nurturing talent, promoting innovation and delivering meaningful client results.”

Mittleman has spent his entire sports and entertainment career with Aramark. As a regional vice president, he is responsible for the leadership, strategic direction and management at more than 60 sports venues, amphitheaters and convention centers spanning the Midwest from Colorado to Ohio.

A pairing a mother can love

Treat the mother in your life to laughs and lunch (rather, brunch, but it doesn’t rhyme) on Mother’s Day May 12.

Comedy Works South in the Landmark development is having a special brunch (www.lucyrestaurant.com) followed by a matinee show with Stand-up comedian and my former Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post colleague Sam Adams.

Reservations: www.comedyworks.com/comedians/706.

Eavesdropping on a wife and husband: “What are you making for breakfast on International Women’s Day?”

“I’m making you an apron so that you can put it on and make me breakfast.”

Did you hear that I have a new column, “Mile High Life,” in Colorado Community Media’s 17 weekly newspapers circling Denver? Be sure to like my Facebook page! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m now the social-media liaison for the Mile High Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, so read my latest restaurant news there. My email: penny@blacktie-llc.com.

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Penny Parker On The Town: Writer does Denver but would rather ditch

Really, dude?

Did David Landsel, contributing editor at Airfarewatchdog.com, get bullied by a bison during visits to Colorado? Landsel recently wrote the story 10 Terribly Overrated Destinations (And Where to Travel Instead), which ran in the “Huffington Post.” Read the post at www.huffingtonpost.com/David%20Landsel/10-terribly-overrated-destinations_b_3030348.html.

“Have you ever traveled somewhere that everyone told you was the absolute best only to find yourself wondering: Is that all there is?” he says in the story’s first line. “The end result? You’ve now wasted precious vacation time and money.

“Here are 10 overrated places I’ve encountered, some all too frequently, during nearly 15 years as a travel writer. If I never see any of them again, I won’t mind at all,” Landsel whines.

He goes on to blast some of my favorite cities in North America: Chicago, San Francisco (I’m from nearby Palo Alto), Vancouver, and – wait for it – COLORADO. Last time I checked that’s a state, not a city.

“Denver is a weirdly bland, Midwestern snore with an air quality problem,” he snorts.  “Vail, apart from its slopes, is suburbia in the middle of nowhere, a collection of strip malls by the side of a highway. Also, The Vail Valley is so high up in the mountains, some people are alarmed to find themselves nearly unable to breathe, let alone ski.

“The rest of the state is too often either uptight and boring (Colorado Springs) or drab and vaguely off-putting (Pueblo, Grand Junction, too many other places to mention).

“The nicer ski towns, like Aspen or Telluride? Amazing sure, but they are also buried so far in the mountains that getting there during ski season – or any season – costs time and money too many people don’t have.

“Colorado did legalize marijuana last year, which is great, because next time you go to Denver, you’ll have something to do.”

Instead, Landsel’s idea of a Rocky Mountain good time is Utah for its ski resorts and national parks. Utah? I spent the longest 18 days of my life in Utah during the 2002 Winter Olympics. You can keep Salt Lake City’s mile-long blocks and weird liquor laws. I’ll take Colorado.

Del Frisco’s Grille may leave grill marks on Cherry Creek’s other grill

I told you recently about Del Frisco’s Grille, an 8,000-plus restaurant and 9,000-square-foot rooftop patio that is part of a 150,000-square-foot office building at the northeast corner of First Avenue and St. Paul Street, which is breaking ground this fall.

More details have emerged since the former announcement of the project recently. The building will feature upscale amenities including more than 450 parking spaces in three levels of underground parking with direct high-speed elevator access; 9-foot-6-inch ceiling height on all office floors; a 30-foot-high, natural-stone lobby and mountain and downtown views.

Del Frisco’s Grille has executed a lease for 8,700 square feet on the ground floor and rooftop patio. The Grille, the younger sibling to the venerable Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House with a location in the Tech Center, is the newest offering from Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group.

The menu takes twists on the traditional bar and grill menu by using bold flavors, regional ingredients and local flair in many dishes.

“We have already enjoyed great success in Denver with Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House and Sullivan’s Steakhouse,” said Mark S. Mednansky, CEO of Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group. “We welcome our friends in Denver to come to Del Frisco’s Grille in Cherry Creek for a local beer and ahi tacos or a nice bottle of wine and a great steak.”

Del Frisco’s Grille also is located in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, New York, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. If Del Frisco’s Grille cuisine is as good as its senior sibling (at a lower price point), the new eatery should give Cherry Creek Grill – less than three blocks away at 184 Steele St. – a much-deserved run for its money.

Unlike CC Grill, Del’s will not introduce annoying rules that dominate the ambience at Cherry Creek Grill: no sitting at a booth unless you’re ordering entrees, no baseball caps, even though they give you a beeper when you’re on a wait you have to check back with them to verify you are in fact still standing in line, and on and on and on.

At least those were just a fraction of the bossy rules when I used to go there – a billion years ago – but I still receive reports from time to time about the iron-fisted policies that are strictly enforced at CC Grill. (They even famously cut off former Broncos great John Elway at the bar, but he got the last word by opening his own wildly successful steak house.)

I’ll raise a glass to Del’s while wearing a baseball cap and sitting in a booth with my drink and appetizers.

Local notables raised charity funds on skis

Earlier this month, Vail Resorts distributed $250,000 to four Colorado nonprofit organizations as part of the Vail Ski Challenge, a competition that challenged 13 teams, captained by Colorado business and civic leaders, to ski as many vertical feet as possible during the season.

The winning charities and teams were:

* First place – $150,000 donation to Children’s Hospital of Colorado from Team Finlon led by philanthropist Cathey Finlon.

* Second place – $50,000 donation to Sungate Kids from Team Herda captained by Larissa Herda, president and chief executive officer for TW Telecom.

* Third place – $30,000 donation to the Denver Public School Foundation from Team Lynne captained by Donna Lynne, president of Kaiser Permanente of Colorado.

* Fourth place – $20,000 donation to Project Angel Heart from Team Thiry led by Kent Thiry, chief executive officer of DaVita.

Teams skied their final vertical feet in the morning before racing against one another as part of the EpicMix Racing program. For more information, go to www.vailskichallenge.com.

Fundraiser hopes to trump cancer

Wings of Hope for Pancreatic Cancer Research presents the second annual Evening of Hope, beginning at 6 p.m. April 25 at The Wildlife Experience, 10035 Peoria St.,  Parker.

The event, to raise awareness and funding for pancreatic cancer research at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, will include a silent auction, drinks, hors d’oeuvres and a special presentation by SR-71 pilot Brian Shul. Shul, author of the nationally acclaimed book “Sled Driver,” takes viewers inside the cockpit of the top-secret Blackbird, the world’s fastest highest-flying aircraft ever built, by sharing his breathtaking photos and video footage never before seen on an IMAX-size screen.

Presenting sponsor of the event is Walt Imhoff, who lost his wife, Georgia, to pancreatic cancer in 2009.

Wings of Hope for Pancreatic Cancer Research was founded by Maureen A. Shul after losing her brother and mother within months of one another to pancreatic cancer.

Maureen, founding mayor of Castle Pines, recently entered into a partnership with the University of Colorado Cancer Center whereby all efforts of Wings of Hope will focus on and benefit pancreatic cancer research, treatments and programs ongoing at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

For tickets and more information, go to www.wingsofhopepcr.org/ or contact Maureen Shul at 720-733-0491.

Ace is the place to get juiced

Ace Juice Bar, a spin-off of the popular Ace Ping-Pong hall and restaurant at 501 E. 17th Ave. opens for business today.

Ace Juice Bar will feature six juice varieties, available for pick-up.  For something a little more substantial, Ace also will be rolling out the Ace Raw Breakfast bar, consisting of nuts, dried fruits, flax and chia seeds, almond butter and honey.

The signature juice at the Ace Juice Bar is A.C.E., made from fresh squeezed carrot, lemon and orange juices, and high in vitamins A, C and E.  Pre-orders and curbside pick-up available by calling 720-897-8002. Ace Juice Bar is open from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

From left, three of Ace Juice Bar's selections, apple carrot ginger, celery Asian pear kale and beet cucumber kale apple. (Ace Juice Bar photo)


Eavesdropping on two women looking at dresses at Nordstrom Rack on Colorado Boulevard: “This color goes well with my skin tone.”

“You mean your skin tan.”

“It is my skin tone, I just bought it.”

Did you hear that I have a new column, “Mile High Life,” in Colorado Community Media’s 17 weekly newspapers circling Denver? Be sure to like my Facebook page! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m now the social-media liaison for the Mile High Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, so read my latest restaurant news there. My email: penny@blacktie-llc.com.

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Penny Parker On The Town: Comedy Works reality series no laughing matter to owner Wende Curtis

Wende Curtis, owner of Comedy Works in LoDo and south in the Landmark development, is peddling a six-minute “sizzle reel” for a reality TV series about her crazy Comedy Works world.

“The working title is called ‘Comedy Works’,” said Curtis, who wouldn’t divulge where or to whom she’s pitching the pilot project. “The principal characters are me, Lucy (her four-legged child), Jeff, our GM of the south club and an assistant who is a sexy little 20-something who wants to break into comedy.

“There are a few more (characters) slated to be introduced early on, but there’s only so much to get across in six minutes! We’ve gotten some strong feedback from the business, now let’s see if we can sell it.”

Curtis said her motivation for exploring the reality TV possibilities was primarily financial.

“Money inspired me … to get out from underneath my debt faster!” she said.

Comedy Works owner Wende Curtis and her French bulldog Lucy are featured in a reality series pilot she is pitching to an unnamed television network. (Blacktie-Colorado photo)


Speaking of Comedy Works South …

My former Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post colleague Sam Adams hosted a gang of VIP supporters during a book-signing Wednesday at Comedy Works South.

Adams, who penned his first book “If You Don’t Believe Me … Lessons Learned From Listening to the Greats,” thanked gathered guests for guiding him through his journey as an insurance company employee to a freelance high-school sports writer for The Denver Post to a full-time position as a sportswriter to columnist to stand-up comedian and now author.

In the book, published by Books to Believe in (www.bookstobelievein.com), Adams recalls close encounters of the celebrity kind including John Elway, Bill Cosby, Sugar Ray Leonard, John “Buck” O’Neil of the Negro Leagues, Floyd Little, Magic Johnson, Quincy Jones, James Caan and on and on … Adams admits to being a notorious name-dropper around friends.

It’s an interesting memory walk down the lane of a life well lived ($20, www.amazon.com).

Former Rocky Mountain News columnist Sam Adams has penned his first book, "If You Don't Believe Me ... Lessons Learned From Listening to the Greats." Adams has reinvented himself as a comedian, author and speaker after the Rocky folded in 2009.


Makes sense

When the creative team behind the musical interpretation of Jane Austen’s classic novel “Sense & Sensibility” first presented their idea to Tony-nominated director Marcia Milgrom Dodge, she thought they were kidding.

How could Austen’s iconic 1811 work of romantic fiction possibly translate into a piece for musical theater?

But the team convinced Milgrom Dodge, who fell in love with the formidable project. The result made its world premiere April 5 in the Stage Theatre.

The result is a whimsical romp through the lives and loves of the Dashwood sisters who go from riches to rags after the death of their father.

The sisters and their mother move to Barton Cottage in Devonshire, near the home of her cousin, Sir John Middleton. It’s at Barton where a series of tangled romances finally straighten themselves out.

The exciting production values include sets that slide on and off stage or emerge from below or descend into trap doors.

“Sense & Sensibility the Musical” runs through May 26. Tickets: 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org.

Juana Bordas, left, and Happy Haynes attended the pre-show event for “Sense & Sensibility the Musical,” which is playing at the Stage Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts complex in downtown Denver. (Photo by Brian Imhof/Denver Center)


DIA’s design delights

“USA Today” recently included Denver International Airport in its list of the “world’s most beautiful airports.

Here’s what the story said:

“Denver International Airport’s iconic peaked fiberglass roof is meant to resemble the Rocky Mountains. Interior details throughout the airport have sparked numerous conspiracy theories – everything from supposed Templar markings in the floors to the theory that the airport serves as the secret headquarters for the Illuminati.”

For more of the story, plus recommended Denver sights worth seeing, go to http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/2013/04/07/worlds-most-beautiful-airports/2056899/.

Presidential project

Want to show former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter what you would do if you had a hammer? Would you hammer in the morning’? Hammer in the evening? All over this land?

A few lucky folks will be chosen to work alongside the Carters during the 2013 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project for Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver from Oct. 6 through 11.

This is the 30th anniversary of the presidential Habitat for Humanity event, and Denver is one of three cities in the U.S. getting the special project.

Volunteers will build 11 new townhomes and repair up to 15 existing homes in Denver’s Globeville neighborhood.

For more information, visit http://www.habitatmetrodenver.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=166&Itemid=1.

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and President Jimmy Carter will be coming to Denver in October to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity. (Photo by Habitat for Humanity)


Pizza, please

Patxi’s Pizza in Englewood and Cherry Creek North is giving tax payers a reason to celebrate this Tax Day by offering a special $10.99 lunch deal on Sunday.

The lunch special includes a slice of Chicago-style stuffed pizza or hand-pulled thin crust pie, a choice of salad and a glass of beer or wine.

To receive the special $10.99 offer, just mention to the deal to your server of “check in” on Foursquare or Yelp to redeem.

The Cherry Creek store is at 185 Steele St. and the Englewood eatery is at 3455 S. University Blvd. Unit B. More information: www.patxispizza.com.

Steak escape

The Travel Channel recently aired an episode of the series “Food Paradise” with a third “Steak Paradise” edition, which included a stop at Vesta Dipping Grill, 1822 Blake St.

Personally, when I think Denver steak house, Vesta doesn’t come to top of mind, but the “Food Paradise” peeps “steaked” a claim to Vesta.

In the piece, diners rave about Vesta’s beef steak dishes – including the signature surf and turf, which is a flatiron steak with Manila clams – as well as waxing poetic about Vesta’s venison filet.

Former executive chef Matt Selby (who now runs the kitchen at Corner House), talks about the veracity of venison for the camera.

The segment likely will air again on the Travel Channel, but until then, you can check it out at http://www.travelchannel.com/video/a-steak-by-any-other-name.

Eavesdropping on a man to a small group of people at Sam Adams’ book-signing party: “This must be the media, isn’t this free?”

Did you hear that I have a new column, “Mile High Life,” in Colorado Community Media’s 17 weekly newspapers circling Denver? Be sure to like my Facebook page! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m now the social-media liaison for the Mile High Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, so read my latest restaurant news there. My email: penny@blacktie-llc.com.

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Penny Parker On The Town: New eateries sprouting up in Denver like spring flowers

April 10, 2013

Those of you who’ve been around the Denver dining scene since the 1990s might remember Michael’s, a former fine dining spot at 2710 E. Third Ave. that lasted until 2000 when chef/owner Michael Shiell sold the place and relocated to The Big Apple.

After a chef stint there, he headed to the other coast as a restaurant consultant in California. But he longed to get back to his chef self, and to again own his own restaurant. Shiell got his wish when Lime owners Curt Sims and Pam Savage decided to leave Larimer Square and set up shop in the Denver Pavilions.

Shiell leased the below-ground level space in a Larimer Square courtyard (near Bistro Vendome), and will open Milk & Honey Bar Kitchen (he hopes) in August.

“We chose the old Lime spot because … well … it’s Larimer Square, and I always love those tucked away little gems personally when I go out,” Shiell said. He was particularly attracted to the large below-ground patio, which he plans to decorate with numerous flowers and plants similar to his Bistro Vendome neighbor.

The “contemporary American” cuisine includes appetizers such as yellowfin tuna tartar, roast hen and foie gras terrine, rabbit rilette and honey-soy lacquered pork belly.

Entrée selections vary from butter-poached halibut, roast French hen, crispy duck breast and veal osso buco. Other dishes are soups and salads, an assortment of artisan cheeses and salumi, pasta and a burger.

Further West as part of the Union Station redevelopment, Zoe Ma Ma, an Asian eatery with a location in Boulder, will open in the former south parking lot on 16th and Wynkoop.

The menu features Dim Sum, noodle and rice dishes and daily specials.”We use organic unbleached wheat flour, all-natural meats, cage-free eggs and wind power,” the menu says. “We don’t use MSG.”

Check out the complete menu at www.zoemama.com.

Moving east from LoDo to Uptown, Pitch Coal-Fire Pizzeria is slated to open on 19th and Pennsylvania with another Marg’s taco joint opening across the street next month.

Marg’s World Taco Bistro, which has Denver locations in Cherry Creek North and LoDo, serves soft tacos with unusual fillings, housemade guacamole, chips and salsa. Complete menu at www.margstacobistro.com.

Pitch Coal-Fire Pizzeria, with one store in Omaha, Neb.,  is expanding into the Denver market.

Pitch is the brainchild of Willy Theisen, the founder of Godfather’s Pizza who sold the operation in 1983 for millions of dollars. But despite his gah-zillionaire status, Theisen, in his mid ’60s, has marinara sauce running through his veins and refuses to retire.

But Pitch is more than a pizza place. The menu includes steaks, pasta, fish, fowl, salads and appetizers. Check  it out at www.pitchpizzeria.com.

Rabbit rilette at the new restaurant, Milk & Honey Bar Kitchen, which chef/owner Michael Shiell hopes to open in August. Milk & Honey will be located in Larimer Square next to Bistro Vendome.


Wayment’s the winner

The only super-secret double probation award given out during the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Industry Spotlight Awards was the coveted Richard P. Ayers Award for Distinguished Service, the CRA’s highest honor.

All the other deserving award-winners had been previously announced, and were there to pick up their prize last Thursday at The Ritz-Carlton Denver.

This year’s Ayers Award went to Roland Wayment, joint venture partner in Bonefish Grill. This award, presented annually to the CRA member who has distinguished his or herself through service to the CRA,  the food service industry and the community, honors the late Dick Ayers, who exemplified distinguished service.

Wayment worked his way up in the food service industry from dishwashing at Valley Country Club to working in the kitchen at Steak and Ale, then serving 17 years at Bennigan’s before opening the Outback Restaurant in 1993 in Littleton.

In 2004, Wayment became a joint venture partner with Bonefish Grill in Westminster. He currently oversees 12 stores – five in Colorado and seven in other states.

He has been involved with the CRA since 1996, serving on the Mile High Chapter Board, the CRA Education Foundation Board of Directors and on the CRA Executive Committee. Wayment was CRA’s chairman of the board 20011-2012.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this award from my friends and colleagues in this amazing industry,” Wayment said. “It has always been a distinct pleasure to work with the Colorado ProStart program. My greatest satisfaction comes from watching young people develop and go on to become great chefs and career professionals in food service.”

Spokes town

The people have “spoken” and Denver has emerged triumphant in REI’s hotly contested Cycle Town Showdown, which pitted several U.S. cities against each other in a battle to see which city was the most bike friendly.

The outcome was no surprise to anyone who has enjoyed the Mile High City’s 850 miles of paved off-road bike paths and more than 300 days of sunshine every year. Denver defeated Portland in the final round of the eight-city NCAA Tournament-style bracket. See the final bracket at www.rei.com/features/infographics/cyclingtown-showdown.html.

Visitors can experience this two-wheel paradise by using Denver B-cycle, the pioneering bike-share system. B-cycle features 56 B-stations located all over th e city. The program will increase to 86 stations by the end of 2013. More information: www.denver.bcycle.com.

Women Cook!

There are still a few tickets left for Women Cook! the all-female chef food fest from 6 to 8:30 p.m. May 6 at Temple Emanuel, 51 Grape St.

Like always, this ninth annual event benefits Work Options for Women, an organization that trains displaced women to work in the food service industry.

This year’s chick chefs are:

Alex White, Jonesy’s Eat Bar; Aniedra Nichols, Elway’s Cherry Creek; Dana Rodriguez, Bistro Vendome; Elise Wiggins, Panzano; Jennifer Jasinski, Rioja, Euclid Hall and Bistro Vendome; Kathleen Kenny Davia, Gateaux; Lisa Bailey, D Bar Desserts; Mary Nguyen, Parallel Seventeen and Street Kitchen Asian Bistro; Rachel Kesley, Water Course Foods; Rasha Husseini Trujillo and Summer Polson, Project Angel Heart; Samm Sherman, Root Down and Linger; Sandra Adams, Grand Hyatt and Sheila Lucero, Jax Fish House.

Oh, and there are a couple of guys thrown into the mixing bowl. They are: Craig Dixon, Cafe Options and Jeff Koch, WOW Cafe.

Tickets are $125 each, and available at www.workoptions.org or by calling 720-944-1920.

Eavesdropping  on one woman to another at the Blue Bonnet bar talking about the start of the Rockies season: “Back when I moved to Denver, the Rockies were the hockey team. Coming from Kentucky, I didn’t know a thing about hockey, but fell totally in love with the sport - it was like Jerry Springer on ice!”

Did you hear that I have a new column, “Mile High Life,” in Colorado Community Media’s 17 weekly newspapers circling Denver? Be sure to like my Facebook page! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m now the social-media liaison for the Mile High Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, so read my latest restaurant news there. My email: penny@blacktie-llc.com.

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Penny Parker On The Town: Strings impending closure sparks many memories

The night before Tammy Cunningham announced that she was closing Strings, the 27-year-old restaurant owned and operated by her late husband, Noel Cunningham, she spoke at the Colorado Restaurant Association Industry Spotlight Awards where she gave out the Noel and Tammy Cunningham Humanitarian Award to Sharon Magness Blake.

“He’s up in heaven,” Tammy said, raising her arms skyward. “I learned many things the last year and a half (since Noel died on Dec. 1, 2011), plus how to use the f-word.”

Then she proved it by dropping f-bombs in sentences mimicking Noel’s Irish accent and turn of phrase.

But all through her speech on Thursday night in The Ritz-Carlton Denver ballroom, she never let on about the bombshell she would be dropping the next day.

Not that anyone in Denver’s close-knit restaurant community was shocked. Strings was never Tammy’s thing. She much preferred her profession as a life coach at her company Heart Intelligent (www.heartintelligent.com).

Still, a wave of wistfulness quickly swept over restaurant industry professionals and diners alike over the demise of the fine-dining restaurant that had been a fixture on 17th Avenue and Humboldt St. for more than a quarter of a century.

“The Colorado Restaurant Association is saddened by the decision to close Strings,” said Pete Meersman, president and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association. “The restaurant is one of Denver’s jewels in our fine dining crown … Noel Cunningham was unique, to say the least. He was a gruff Irishman inside, but also a very talented chef, and he always had that wonderful twinkle in his smilin’ Irish eyes.

“He was a passionate man who fought for the things he cared about and there were so many - maybe too many - things he cared about.”

Meersman called Tammy “the softer side of that relationship. Tammy tried very hard to make the restaurant work after Noel’s death. Running a restaurant was simply not something she could do as well as Noel. Her heart wasn’t in it, especially without Noel.”

Patricia Woodin, division chief with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division, sent an e-mail to Strings the day the news of its closure came out.

She retold a story of Noel’s kindness during the Columbine High School shootings when various law-enforcement agencies worked around the clock at the crime scene. In the 10 days following the initial assault, the JeffCo sheriff’s deputies spent 10 days in the school to process the scene.

They didn’t have the time or resources to feed the 30 to 40 people who were in the school each day. Several benevolent people and businesses brought food, and Strings was one of those businesses.

“One day, Strings delivered portobello mushroom sandwiches,” Woodin recalled. “…One grumpy old cop asked, ‘What are those?’ We excitedly answered that those were portobello sandwiches from Strings … we began to talk about our visits to the restaurant. We spoke of the service, the food, the wine and the wonderful experience that most of us had the pleasure to enjoy.

“There was a moment in which we forgot about our mission and why we were there in the school. For about 15 minutes, Strings and those with the kindness to understand our need, brought us joy. In the midst of turmoil, hate and unbelievable sadness, we had a moment of joy … I will never forget the kindness of Strings, its owners and its employees.”

Cool Cold Crush

Cold Crush, a restaurant, bar and lounge, is busting onto a burgeoning business scene at 2700 Larimer St. in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. The grand opening party from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. April 19 is open to the public.

The Cold Crush name is inspired by the late-’70s hip hop group Cold Crush Brothers. The restaurant-lounge is the creation of Brian Mathenge, co-owner of the Killer Shrimp Restaurant and Bar in Marina Del Rey, Calif., and three other planned locations.

Mathenge, a longtime fan of Denver’s art community, has been coming to Denver for years to visit family, and now splits his time between Colorado and Southern California.

He is opening Cold Crush as an artist’s haven, a place where artists, poets and musicians can meet, mingle and dine on locally sourced food.

“Lots of places hang and sell art on the walls, and call themselves an art bar,” Mathenge said. “Our vision is for Cold Crush to be part of the art community, to be a place where artists can hang out, eat great food, and even showcase their own work.”

Cold Crush’s management team consists of three longtime Denver residents: DJ MU$A, a local musician, DJ and producer; Cassie Stevens, a model and DJ and Eric Cunningham, general manager and art enthusiast.

Cold Crush’ fare includes a juice bar, fresh Panini sandwiches, soups, salads and entrees from lunch until late.

Cold Crush, a restaurant, bar and lounge at 2700 Larimer St., holds its grand opening party on April 19.


Celebrate good times

One of the fastest foodie fights you can get into is bringing up the subject of who’s got the best pizza. Nice way to disturb the peace.

But you can  argue until your face is the color of sauce over who has the best pie, fact is that many pizza places have come and gone over the years. Not Beau Jo’s.

Say what you will about the Mountain pies piled high with toppings and thick crust with dippin’ honey or Prairie Pies with a more traditional crust and a lighter amount of ingredients, fact is that Beau Jo’s has been putting out pies for 40 years.

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Beau Jo’s Colorado Style Pizza wants to say “thank you” by offering 1973 pricing on its top five selling pizzas and by giving four winners free Beau Jo’s pizza for a year.

The five bestsellers – the three-pound hamburger or sausage combo Mountain Pie, the three-pound Dude Ranch Mountain Pie, the three-pound Pacific Plantation Mountain Pie the large L’il Italy Prairie Pie and the large Margherita Prairie Pie – will sell for $19.73 each through the end of April.

To register to win free Beau Jo’s pizza for a year, “like” the pizza place on Facebook this month at www.facebook.com/beaujos. The four winners will be randomly chosen in early May.

Chip Bair opened the first Beau Jo’s in downtown Idaho Springs on April 1, 1973 – a tiny 570-square-foot store with seating for 15 people. The Idaho Springs flagship restaurant is now more than 10,000 square feet and seats 600 diners.

Beau Jo’s has expanded to eight stores, including six owner-operated locations in Arvada, Boulder, Denver, Evergreen, Fort Collins and Idaho Springs. There are two licensed restaurants in Steamboat Springs and Rapid City, S.D. More information: www.beaujos.com.

Beast + bottle + brunch

Beast + bottle, the new “nose to tail” eatery from the brother and sister team of Paul C. Reilly and Aieleen Reilly, opened recently among much fanfare for its “farm to fork” philosophy.

All animals are butchered on site (with the exception of a steer, which is too large to handle in a small space). The restaurant opened for dinner only recently in the former Olivea and Aix space at 719 E. 17th Ave.

Last Friday, beast + bottle added brunch to the menu on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with plans to offer brunch Tuesday through Sunday in a few weeks.

beast + bottle boasts its own flock of Rhode Island Red hens, which lay organic eggs just for the restaurant. As it says on the brunch menu, “These girls are living the ‘life of Reilly’ at Cottonwood Creek Farms in Merino, in northeast Colorado.”

Most of the brunch menu offers gluten-free options. Check out the menu and make reservations at www.beastandbottle.com.

Eavesdropping on a Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel employee on Friday: “You know it’s opening day when work sends a strolling cart of popcorn, peanuts and root beer floats through the offices.”

Did you hear that I have a new column, “Mile High Life,” in Colorado Community Media’s 17 weekly newspapers circling Denver? Be sure to like my Facebook page! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m now the social-media liaison for the Mile High Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, so read my latest restaurant news there. My email: penny@blacktie-llc.com.

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Penny Parker On The Town: Coors Field, how does your garden grow? With flowers, herbs and vegetables all in a row

Remember when “take me out to the ball game” meant a meal of peanuts and crackerjack along with a hot dog and beer?

So imagine what a healthy home run that Aramark, Coors Field’s exclusive concessionaire, is hitting with the introduction of a sustainable garden located at Gate A of the ball field.

The Colorado Rockies and Aramark have partnered with The Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University and Designs by Sundown to produce the on-site garden, which will provide the concessionaire with herbs and vegetables for use in Coors Field’s Mountain Ranch Club menu and build-your-own salad station.

The design of “The Garden”, which is its official name, mimics a baseball stadium with raised beds terracing upward from The Garden’s “infield” to the outfield, to the stands. Ornamental flowers, followed by herbs, followed by vegetables will be on display for fans that pass through Gate A over the course of the Rockies’ season.

The beds will be constructed of beetle kill pinewood sourced from Morgan Timber Products of Fort Collins. The plantings will be propagated at CSU from seeds adapted to the Colorado climate.

The installation of The Garden marks a further commitment by the Rockies and Aramark to develop environmentally friendly programs in alignment with Major League Baseball’s recent green focus.

On the other side of the snack spectrum, Aramark has added plenty of indulgent items that will be offered starting with the home opener today. They are:

* Sausage on a stick – Italian, smoked cheddar, spicy Polish sausage.

* Carnitas nachos – tortilla chips smothered in green chili queso topped with pork carnitas, jalapenos, pico de gallo and sour cream.

* Smothered empanada – topped with former Bronco Mark Schlereth‘s Stinkin’ Green Chili, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo and sour cream.

* Pizza nachos – fresh fried pizza dough chips topped with house-made marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella, diced pepperoni and sausage.

* Rib eye sandwich – a 4-ounce rib eye served with sliced Havarti horseradish cheese, topped with onion tanglers and tangy gold barbecue sauce.

* Souvenir refillable popcorn.

Laird lands at Sarto’s

Since talented chef Brian Laird left Barolo Grill, after a 12-year stint in command of the kitchen, he bounced around Denver’s dining scene between the now-shuttered Russo’s down south to the now-shuttered RockBar on East Colfax to Sketch at 101 Broadway.

I don’t think that Laird knew what he wanted to do when he grew up. But the boy wonder (he looks younger than his years) finally has landed at a spot I think he can call home. Sarto’s, a northern Italian eatery poised to open in the fall in a vacant century-old property at the corner of Eliot and 25th Avenue, will be the centerpiece of an emerging neighborhood between Highland and Sports Authority Field.

Laird and majority owners Taylor Swallow and Kjsa Gotlin share a passion for northern Italian cuisine, which will be adapted to reflect contemporary tastes.

Laird will craft a seasonal made-from-scratch menu featuring locally sourced products, hand-selected Italian specialty items, antipasti creations, house-made pasta and wood-fired selections.

A floor-to-ceiling bar will feature custom cocktails, Italian wines and beers, as well as a handful of domestic selections. The space will seat 90 indoors and include covered patio seating outdoors.

Adjacent to the restaurant will be Sarto’s Pantry, which will offer quick bites for lunch or dinner including soups, sandwiches, salads and pizzas, plus take-home ingredients such as fresh pastas, sauces, meats and cheeses.

For more information, visit www.sartos.com or www.facebook.com/sartosdenver or follow on Twitter @sartosdenver.

Singin’ and dancin’ in Denver

“Ballroom with a Twist”, a super show coming to the Buell Theatre June 8 and 9, combines celebrity pros from “Dancing With the Stars” with “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance ” finalists.

The international dance production, with stunning costumes and performances that push the boundaries of ballroom dancing, features “Dancing With the Stars” competitors Jonathan Roberts, Anna Trebunskaya, Tristan MacManus and Chelsie Hightower. “American Idol” finalists are Gina Glocksen (season six) and Von Smith (season eight). “So You Think You Can Dance” finalists are Randi Lynn Strong, Jonathan Platero and Legacy.

“Dancing With the Stars” Emmy-nominated Louis van Amstel’s choreography brings sizzling dance moves and fancy flash to this family friendly evening.

Single tickets for “Ballroom With a Twist” start at $20. To charge by phone, call Denver Center ticket services at 303-893-4100 or buy online at www.denvercenter.org.

Good eats in Estes

If it works for Denver, why can’t it work for Estes Park?

Estes Park Restaurant Week takes place from April 12 through 25. The deal? Enjoy a three-course meal for only $20.13.

The week winds up with Taste of Estes on April 25 with area restaurants participating at the Conference Center at Rocky Mountain Park Inn.

Some participating restaurants in Estes Park Restaurant Week will offer breakfast and lunch specials or upgraded dinner packages at $30.13 or $40.14. More restaurant and menu information at http://www.dineestespark.com/Page_2.php.

Mornings with Moreno

I told you recently that CBS4 has hired Britt Moreno from KSAZ-TV in Phoenix, as Alan Gionet‘s other half on the “CBS4 Morning News” at 5 and 6 a.m. as well as on the noon news.

The news is that Moreno will make her morning debut on Monday.

“We are very pleased to have Britt join CBS4,” said news director Tim Wieland.  “She is a great journalist who connects with viewers and will be a strong addition to our talented team.”

Moreno, who is bilingual, is originally from Austin, Texas. She attended Trinity University in San Antonio, where she received degrees in communications and Spanish.  For more information, call 303-861-4444 or visit www.cbsdenver.com.

Texas native Britt Moreno will join the CBS4 morning newscast on Monday. (Photo courtesy of CBS4)


Playing footsie

This couple takes togetherness too far: John and Joanne Davidson each are sporting (not cowboy) boots on their right feet. John hurt his foot and Joanne, The Denver Post Society editor, sprained her ankle.John wass scheduled to get his boot off Thursday.

No boot-scooting boogie for Joanne and John Davidson (Photo from Joanne Davidson's Facebook page)


Eavesdropping on a woman talking about her friend’s recent mammogram: “She said when the lady asked her if she had any implants her reply was, ‘Well if I did I was robbed!’”

Did you hear that I have a new column, “Mile High Life,” in Colorado Community Media’s 17 weekly newspapers circling Denver? Be sure to like my Facebook page! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m now the social-media liaison for the Mile High Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, so read my latest restaurant news there. My email: penny@blacktie-llc.com.



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Penny Parker On The Town: Restaurant owner Morreale’s saga with the city continues

Jesse Morreale, the beleaguered owner of the historic 101 Broadway building – home of restaurants El Diablo and Sketch Wine Bar – must feel like Public Enemy No. 1 to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration.

In the latest bout between the restaurateur and the city, Morreale was found to have violated his liquor license for allegedly serving alcohol to a minor - an allegation he vehemently denies.

In the final order issued April 1 (ironically on April Fool’s Day, as Morreale points out), the Department of Excise and Licenses director Tom Downey sided with the hearing officer who found the restaurant in violation of its liquor license and recommended a penalty.

The end result of the penalty gives Morreale until April 11 to choose six days where the restaurants will not be allowed to serve liquor and two of those days must include a Friday or Saturday.

In NO WAY does that mean the restaurants will have to shut down during those six liquor-free days. If he elects not to appeal and the order stands, Morreale said he’ll likely “make lemonade out of lemons” by branding those nights “family nights.”

The underage liquor violation took place at El Diablo on Aug. 24 during an incident that Morreale called “a sting” by the Denver Police Department.

But this latest dust-up isn’t Morreale’s first legal rodeo with the city. He famously fought the law last year when the city shut him down by deeming the building “unsafe” for public occupancy even though El Diablo had been serving diners for three years.

Whether 101 Broadway has been repaired and now meets the city’s safety standards is a point of contention between both parties with no real resolution in sight. Stay tuned for updates on that evolving drama.


This restaurant rumor has some meat to it. According to a broker, Del Frisco’s Grille, long rumored to be coming to the Denver market, will supposedly take a large space in the First Bank redevelopment project on First and St. Paul in Cherry Creek North.

The more casual sibling of the dynamite Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse (with one in the Tech Center), Del Frisco Grille’s motto is “food and drinks that are built to share.”

Del Frisco Grilles are located in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, New York, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. The menu features less-expensive items including flatbread, chicken wings, deviled eggs, sandwiches, pasta, meatloaf and chicken schnitzel. Open Table lists the price point at $31 to $50 as opposed to Del’s “special occasion” prices that start at $50 per person.

Go for broke

The 41-year-old Broker Restaurant at 821 17th St. is celebrating its birthday by giving a gift to lunch diners. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Friday, prices will flash back to 1972.

No reservations, however, so go early or late to avoid the lunch rush. More information: 303-292-5065.

Looking for love

Was Denverite Eric Elkins looking for love in all the wrong places? Perhaps that’s why he decided to give “The Steve Harvey Show” a shot.

Elkins, a social media expert, put his love life in the comedian/talk show host’s hands.

“A single dad who says he’s ready to date comes to Steve for help finding Mrs. Right. Can Steve help him find a love connection?” says a post on Harvey’s website.

Apparently cupid’s arrow found its target: A brunette named “Erin,” who has agreed to go on a date with Elkins in Colorado. You can comment on what you think chances are that there’s a love connection at http://www.steveharveytv.com/single-dad-date/.

“The Steve Harvey Show” airs at 9 a.m. weekdays on KTVD, Channel 20.

Pasquini and pasta

Long-time restaurateur Tony Pasquini, owner with Judy “Mama” Pasquini of three Tony P’s restaurants in town, will roll out ravioli on Thursday’s “Best of Colorado,” beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday on KDVR, Fox-31.

The segment will feature a ravioli-making demo for the home cook. He’ll also talk about the restaurants’ new menu items including roast chicken, vegan options (including vegan cheese) and gluten-free items.

Take me out to the patio

With temperatures predicted in the ’70s for the Rockies home opener on Friday, it’s perfect a time to kick off patio season at Elway’s in The Ritz-Carlton, 18th and Curtis.

Get the party started with cold beers, grilled brats, live music from local talent Josh Meyers and a drawing for tickets to the home opening game during a pair of patio parties from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday.

Ballpark-inspired specials by Elway’s chef Robert Bogart feature grilled brats; chicken nachos; Philly, short rib and barbecue chicken sliders’ Elway’s signature smashburger and French fries of the day.

Five-beer buckets of Coors Light, Coors Banquet and Coronas (which can be mixed and matched) are $15, and Coors Light drafts are $3.

Josh Meyers will appear on the Elway’s downtown patio on Friday. (Photo courtesy of www.joshmeyers.vpweb.com)

Symphony sweepstakes

The Colorado Symphony Association is launching its first raffle in more than two decades: The Great Symphony Sweepstakes, which will be music to the winner’s ears.

Grand prize includes a 2013 Prius Persona with sales taxes paid by the Symphony, one year of free parking at the Denver Performing Arts Complex and two tickets to all 51 2013/14 Colorado Symphony performances at Boettcher Concert Hall.

Only 4,999 tickets will be sold, and the grand prize winner will be drawn June 8 at “Solid Gold,” the Doc Severinsen concert. Ticket holders do not need to be present to win.

Raffle tickets cost $75 each or five for $300, and are available online at www.coloradosymphony.org, at the Boettcher box office and through one of the Symphony’s in-person sales agents.

Eavesdropping on a man to his wife: “You’re Beverly Hills, I’m Beverly Hillbillies.”

Did you hear that I have a new column, “Mile High Life,” in Colorado Community Media’s 17 weekly newspapers circling Denver? Be sure to like my Facebook page! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m now the social-media liaison for the Mile High Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, so read my latest restaurant news there. My email: penny@blacktie-llc.com.


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Penny Parker On The Town: Westword ‘Best of’ issue out and about in print, online

Westword magazine much-anticipated “2013 Best of Denver” edition is out on newsstands, online and on a free mobile app.

This issue  – all 196 pages of it – marks the 30th year the newspaper staff has taken on the daunting task of settling on the best in shopping & services, sports & recreation, food & drink, arts & entertainment – and replacing people and places this year – Colorado Classics, representing 30 “individuals, institutions and enterprises” celebrated in each of the previous year’s publications.

Westword editor and founder Patty Calhoun chose the list of Colorado Classics, well, because she can, and she’s only one of two staff members who’s been there for all 30 “Best of” years. And since she’s a gal pal o’ mine, I wasn’t surprised by many of her picks.

Starting in 1984 with the brand new Broncos QB John Elway.

1985: My Brother’s Bar.

1986: Mayan Theatre.

1987: Benny’s Cantina.

1988: Chuck Morris.

1989: Wynkoop Brewing Company.

1990: Barry Fey.

1991: Mercury Café.

1992: Lake Steam Baths.

1993: Chubby Burger Drive Inn.

1994: “America, Why I Love Her.”

1995: Denver Central Library.

1996: Phil Bender and Pirate.

1997: Tattered Cover.

1998: Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

1999: Antique Row.

2000: El Chapultepec.

2001: Oxford Hotel.

2002: Rockmount Ranch Wear.

2003: Confluence Park.

2004: Chipotle.

2005: La Fiesta.

2006: PeaceJam.

2007: Buffalo Museum and Grave.

2008: Racines.

2009: Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

2010: 16th Street Mall.

2011: George Karl.

2012: “Mustang.”

2013: John Hickenlooper.

In most of the zillions of “Best of” items, reader’s choices are also listed. So love it or hate it, “Westword’s” annual “Best of Denver” makes a good read.

Patinkin keynote speaker at JFS Luncheon

Jewish Family Service of Colorado manages to consistently snag a super speaker for its annual JFS Executive Luncheon, and this year promises to be no exception when dynamic Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor and singer Mandy Patinkin takes the stage as the keynote speaker on April 24 at the Hyatt Regency Denver Convention Center.

Patinkin, who’s currently starring in Showtime’s hit drama series “Homeland,” has a litany of stage and screen roles on his resume. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., program starts at noon.

Tickets are $150 each at www.jewishfamilyservice.org/luncheon. All proceeds benefit the life-transforming work of Jewish Family Service, which helps more than 20,000 people of all ages, faiths and incomes every year.

Riedel’s right

Maximilian Riedel, the 11th-generation glassmaker and CEO of Riedel Crystal of America, will demonstrate why shape matters when it comes to pairing the proper glass with the right wine from 6 to 7:30 p.m. April 11 at the Metro State University of Denver Hospitality Learning Center, 1190 Auraria Parkway.

Tickets are $100 for this fundraising event for the university, and includes a three-piece set of Riedel glasses valued at more than $103. Riedel has held this seminar two years in a row at Denver Food and Wine, and it sells out quickly. Register at https://events.mscd.edu/riedel.


Andrisen Morton, the upscale men’s wear store in Cherry Creek North whose typical customers are Denver’s well-heeled dudes, donated a custom-tailored suit to 16-year-old Moises Banuelos for his big night recently being recognized as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver’s Colorado State Youth of the Year.

Banuelos, a sophomore at Abraham Lincoln High School, has been a member of the William E. Cope branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs for 10 years. The ambitious young man plans to attend the University of Denver to study to be a FBI agent.

The suit will get a second showing when Banuelos competes in regional competition this summer.

Andrisen Morton men's clothing store donated a suit for Moises Banuelos to wear for being recognized as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver's Colorado State Youth of the Year. (Photo by Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver)


Chris Parente, the zany Emmy Award-winning host of the “Everyday Show” on KDVR Fox-31, will emcee NightSparks from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Wellshire Event Center, 3333 S. Colorado Blvd.

The event benefits LifeSpark Cancer Resources for cancer patients through the use of Reiki and Healing Touch. The volunteer driven organization provided more than 1,000 session hours to more than 100 individuals with cancer in 2012.

The evening will include dinner, cash bar, dancing, silent and live auctions and entertainment provided by The CopperTones, a division of The Nacho Men. Doug Tisdale, mayor of Cherry Creek Hills Village, is the auctioneer.

Tickets are $75 each, $140 for two and $65 for young professionals 40 and under. More information: www.lifesparknow.org.

More than Tex Mex

Zanitas Mexican and Margaritas, a fast casual eatery that turns most perceptions of Mexican fare on its cabeza, is now open at I-25 and Hampden at the Shoppes at High Pointe.

Owners Nick Hayes and Matt Dark set out to create a “Nu Mex” menu including “toasted burritos” with chicken and bacon or mac and cheese with grilled smoked sausage and crispy fried pickle, and tacos with fried avocado or wood roasted salmon with arugula.

They also serve more traditional dishes such an enchilada, taco platter and taco salad, plus house-made salsas, pico de gallo and guacamole and fresh-lime margaritas.

More information at http://zanitasmexican.com/.

Eavesdropping on one male skier to another in the lift line on chair 4 at Vail: “I told my dad I’d never be out of shape.”

“You’re not. It’s just the shape you’re in!”

Did you hear that I have a new column, “Mile High Life,” in Colorado Community Media’s 17 weekly newspapers circling Denver? Be sure to like my Facebook page! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m now the social-media liaison for the Mile High Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, so read my latest restaurant news there. My email: penny@blacktie-llc.com.

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