Patrons and chefs celebrate return of Denver Restaurant Week

Posted at 5:06 PM, Apr 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-23 20:42:00-04

DENVER -- Reservations are filling up fast as Denver Restaurant Week gets underway.

Inside the kitchen at Il Posto, Chef and Owner Andrea Frizzi showed up to work early to make a carrot top pesto for one of the dishes featured on his three-course menu. He could barely contain his excitement knowing his restaurant was booked for the weekend.

"The energy, it’s super good for the city. And not only for the city, for the people who work in the restaurant," said Frizzi.

Frizzi survived two indoor dining bans and described the second one like a punch in the gut. He said Il Posto lost half a million dollars but was able to make it through thanks to a PPP loan and investors.

"Our job was, let’s just stay open because we never give up. People love that kind of story," said Frizzi.

Denver Restaurant Week is taking place from April 23 through May 2. The 10-day event was moved to April, allowing restaurants to take advantage of patios and other outdoor spaces.

Participating restaurants will offer a multi-course menu for $25, $35 or $45 per person. A complete list of restaurants and additional information can be found on the Visit Denver website.

The event takes place shortly after capacity restrictions were lifted for Denver restaurants. Although restaurants can operate at 100% capacity, they must maintain six feet of social distancing, and that's just one reason reservations can be hard to come by.

"Each week, we get a week closer to the other side, and I think this week feels so good," said Bobby Stuckey, Frasca Hospitality Group co-owner and founding member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition.

Congress passed a $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund in March but Stuckey knows it's too late for some restaurants that couldn't survive the past year.

"That’s the sad part about this, is we're missing a lot of our peers and co-restaurant-owners this week," said Stuckey.

Linda Hampsten Fox, chef and owner of The Bindery, said customers who have avoided going out to eat for months are finally returning.

“I think everyone is feeling that little itch to get out," said Hampsten Fox.

For the first time this year, The Bindery is also offering a takeout option for Restaurant Week.

"That’s a nice option for people who are still not feeling that comfortable or do have concerns," said Hampsten Fox.