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New menu, who dis?

Two cherished Denver restaurants get new looks

Snack Bag: Denver’s most delicious news 

I hope you’re hungry! It’s your regular Thursday helping of local food news, and I’ve got nothing but the tastiest of tidbits for you.

First up, City Cast Denver staff-favorite out-of-state burger chain Shake Shack (see our renowned burger crawl episode) is not only opening up a new location in Greenwood Village this month (complete with a drive-up pickup window), but it’s also opening one of the chain’s very first drive-thru windows in Castle Rock. These new outposts will mark locations 8 and 9 for Colorado Shake Shacks.

Speaking of fast-casual restaurants taking metro Denver by storm, homegrown hot chicken chain Blazing Bird is taking its fourth location to downtown Denver near Union Station. The restaurant’s flagship opened in Arvada only two years ago. Blazing Bird specializes in Nashville hot chicken sandwiches, but also dabbles in tacos, burritos, and mac and cheese. (Hmm, maybe hot chicken is on the menu for our next food battle episode? 🤔)

Meanwhile in Lakewood, Chef Alex Seidel (of James Beard Award-winning fame; see Mercantile and Fruition) is taking the reins at Frontroom Pizza. For 35 years, this pie-slingin’ parlor has been a neighborhood staple, cherished by many Lakewooders — including Seidel himself.

“It really came down to me having a true love for that restaurant and not wanting to (lose) another option in our neighborhood,” Seidel told The Denver Post.

Under Seidel, the restaurant will be rechristened Roca’s Pizza & Pasta. The chef plans to give the space a fresh facelift with new furnishings, as well as update the menu to include both thin-crust and Sicilian-style pizzas, plus handmade pastas and sandwiches. But Frontroom’s signature garlic bread, salad bar, and lasagna will remain the same.

Also getting a new look and new name? Longtime Colfax landmark Tom’s Diner. Construction has begun transforming the restaurant from 24/7 greasy-spoon to an “oasis in the city,” complete with a posh cabana-laden garden and sleek new cocktail offerings. The motif of Tom’s Starlight — as the restaurant will now be called — is inspired by 1970s-era Las Vegas and will leave the iconic Googie-style facade of the building untouched. Owner Tom Messina will continue to manage the restaurant.

And last, but certainly not least: Earlier this week, Chef Tajahi Cooke joined the ranks of Colorado Springs’ Brother Luck, Boulder’s Chris Royster, Denver’s Thach Tran, and several other Colorado-based chefs who’ve appeared on Food Network’s “Chopped.” (I won’t spoil it for you.)

Cooke is best known for starting The Supper Club, a dinner series in which chefs come together to collaborate and foster conversations around local and ethical sourcing practices.

— Peyton Garcia, City Cast Denver Newsletter Writer (Forever Hungry)



🚫 King Soopers strike gets heated: Negotiations between the grocery store giant and the UFCW Local 7 union continue to sit in a deadlock. On day 7 of the strike, King Soopers was granted a temporary restraining order that limits the number of picketers permitted outside of stores to 10 (though KS originally wanted that number to be five). The complaint filed by the company alleges that picketers are intimidating customers, threatening damage of store property, and blocking store access. For its part, the union said these allegations were baseless “bullying tactics.”

🦠 Get those free COVID tests! Every residential household in the U.S. qualifies for four free at-home rapid antigen tests. Sign up now. Tests are scheduled to be shipped starting at the end of January.

  • 😷 Masks are soon to follow: Starting today, the state will begin offering free KN95 masks at community sites with a limit of five masks per person per month. 

🛑 Slow down, Denver: With the new “20 is plenty” speed limit ordinance underway, you might be wondering: Just how many traffic accidents occur on Denver’s residential streets? Well, there were more than 3,000 in 2021 (which made up almost 20% of all Denver vehicular accidents for that year) according to an analysis from Denverite

  • 🚘 It’s not just Denver: Traffic deaths across the state increased 50% in the last decade. According to The Denver Post, more people died in crashes in Colorado in 2021 than any other year in nearly two decades. And no, it’s not just because the population has boomed.

🎧 LISTEN: David Plotz asks dumb Denver questions: Today on the show, we bring in our boss David Plotz. He’s a lifelong Washingtonian, but as CEO of City Cast it’s part of his job to get to know all the cities that are part of our network: Chicago, Houston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, and of course, Denver. So we’re letting David ask his most embarrassing Denver questions, like: “What the heck is Red Rocks and do you actually get to sit on the rocks?” and “Does the altitude really affect your life that much?”