Steamboat Springs The operators of Cafe Diva say they are within a couple of weeks of reopening a downtown brew pub that closed last fall.
Paul Underwood said he and partner Seth Cheikin will call their newest restaurant Mahogany Ridge. Not to worry, Underwood said, former Steamboat Brewery and Tavern brew master Charlie Noble has been brought on board and he'll be making batches of Alpenglo Ale when Mahogany Ridge opens, perhaps as soon as April 1.
The name of the new restaurant in the Fifth Street Marketplace just off Lincoln Avenue is a nod to local skiers' vernacular. When skiers and snowboarders tell a friend, "meet me at Mahogany Ridge at 1:30 p.m.," they aren't referring to a ski trail but to the wooden railing on the bar of a local watering hole.
The old Steamboat Brewery and Tavern was forced to close Oct. 12 after financial troubles at el Rancho Nuevo, a Mexican food restaurant under the same ownership next door, spread to the brew pub.
Ironically, Underwood and Cheikin met while both men were food servers at el Rancho. They left to start Cafe Diva, originally a tiny wine bar in Torian Plum Plaza.
"We started with nothing but a toaster oven and a two-burner hot plate," Underwood said. "We both worked about 100 hours a week which allowed us to save up a little nest egg."
The little restaurant was often packed with late evening nibblers and soon the two men expanded to a full size dining room. Underwood said he hopes a second location will help him and his partner retain their employees.
"We have such a strong staff, we wanted to provide more opportunities for them by growing our company," he said.
The men are familiar with the old Steamboat Brewery from their days at the el Rancho Nuevo.
Chef Kate Van Rensselaer and Jason Salisbury will oversee the menus of both restaurants. Salisbury recently left La Montana, where he worked for nine years, most recently as executive chef for two years.
Salisbury said the brew pub menu will be different from the fare at Cafe Diva. He describes the new menu as creative comfort food. Look for fried chicken, fried pork chops with green chili applesauce and fish and chips based on halibut.
Underwood said he wants to create a family dining atmosphere and price his meals reasonably. The dining room will retain the familiar booths from the brewery and tavern, but the carpeted floor has been converted to hardwood and rich wood wainscoting now wraps around the bar.
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