At first glance, Dick Monfort and William Brinkerhoff seem like longtime friends. But the two Denver powerhouses never actually met until they went into business together.
Monfort, co-owner of the Colorado Rockies and part of the development team behind McGregor Square, was looking for the perfect restaurant to fill the last vacant space on the second floor of the busy 18-month-old condo, office and retail complex across from Coors Field. And he said his son, Kenny, told him to try out Sierra Restaurant in Lone Tree.
“Since then, I’ve been there 12 times, even though I live down here,” Monfort said.
Brinkerhoff, who owns La Loma, the decades-old Mexican food mainstay, and Sierra Restaurant, initially turned down Monfort’s offer to open a new spot in McGregor Square, since he was hesitant about downtown’s prospects for recovery after the pandemic.
But almost two years later, Caldéro is getting ready to open on Monday, Feb. 27, at 1601 19th St., Suite 180. The sister restaurant to La Loma and Sierra features Southwestern and western-influenced cuisine, such as ribs, steak, rotisserie chicken, fajitas, grilled strip tacos and green chile, similar to Sierra Restaurant’s upscale wood-fired menu. Entrée prices are also similar to those at Sierra, from $20-$40. Drinks include margaritas, palomas and barrel-aged Casamigos.
“He won me over with his charm,” Brinkerhoff said about Monfort.
Monfort, who owns a condo in MacGregor Square, is an investor in Caldéro, but the restaurant is also next to Legacy Club, the 2,400-square-foot, members-only bar that Monfort opened in 2021. Residents of McGregor Square are eligible to join for $200 a year, and all other members must be invited. Monfort said Caldéro will serve food at the club.
“I looked long and hard to find the best restaurant to go in here, and I found it,” Monfort said. “I bugged [Brinkerhoff] until he decided to come down here.”
Caldéro is huge with 13,000 square feet and has a sleek design. There’s a bar on the first floor near the front entrance on 19th Street, a large patio overlooking McGregor Square’s courtyard, plus a private dining space reserved for events. The exposed brick walls are decorated with Native American and Western artwork, but Brinkerhoff also included natural elements, like hammered copper details on the tables, leather booths and chairs, and wood and concrete floors.
“[Brinkerhoff] has such attention to detail and his staff is so incredible,” Monfort said. “Somebody said that if you have an incredible staff, it makes up for poor food. But that’s not the plan here. We have incredible food, incredible ambiance and incredible staff. Now, that formula really works.”
“That’s why we’re such great partners,” Brinkerhoff added.
Executive chef Paco Romeo, who has worked at Sierra for the last five years, said the menu is similar to Sierra’s because the restaurant group likes to keep consistency across their brands. But he plans to add some new items down the line, like crab cakes and more fish offerings.
“We have regulars who come back looking for that perfect bite of steak that brought them here in the first place, so we don’t want to go changing things up on them, even if it is someone else manning the grill,” Romeo said.
Brinkerhoff, who owns Brinkerhoff Hospitality, decided to make Caldéro a new concept, rather than open a second Sierra or La Loma, to keep the location from feeling like part of a chain.
Brinkerhoff and his father purchased La Loma, which opened in Denver in 1973 in Jefferson Park, in the 1980s from the Mendoza family. They later moved the Tex-Mex restaurant to its current location at 1801 Broadway, and opened a second one in Castle Rock last year. The restaurant group plans to open a third location in Parker this July, and a fourth in the Denver Tech Center’s Belleview Promenade in August, Brinkerhoff said.
The restaurateur opened Sierra Restaurant, an upscale wood-fired grill, with his son Mark in 2017 within Lone Tree’s RidgeGate Commons.
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