With 11 distinct restaurant concepts under his chef apron strings, there’s no one who’s made as large an impact on Denver dining as Frank Bonanno.
Love him or don’t love him – and people seem to have strong feelings either way – you cannot deny he’s done a great service to our beloved city.
My sense of him – through stories I’ve heard firsthand and ones I’ve read – is he’s a man with heart.
You could not build, deliver on and sustain the kind of quality his restaurants do, without it.
If the personality – or, the ego – is at all hard to take, all is forgiven when you eat his food.
As you know, I feel the environment, service and hospitality are equally important to a great dining experience.
His wife, Jacqueline, is known to be the creative force behind the restaurants.
Her Twitter profile reads: Sounding board to the food obsessed. Creative Director of a really great group of restaurants. And a couple of bars.
I like her already.
The philosophy of the company is straightforward, but not simple:
Bonanno Concepts is a chef driven restaurant family dedicated to satisfying meals, outstanding service, education and community.
If you can believe it – as much time as I spend in restaurants in Denver and Boulder – I’d never been to a Bonanno restaurant before going to Lou’s Food Bar the other night for Happy Hour and twEATDrink*.
I was immediately charmed and it was a nice, low-key introduction to his family of restaurants.
Like visiting the sweet aunt, before you meet the parents.
The place is a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.
The country is in the handled mason jars, silverware rolled in cute French countryside linens and the overall casual, homey feel.
The rock and roll is in the menu – filled with pates, sausages, fried chicken and more meat-centricness than this flexitarian likes to see on a menu.
But, what I’ve come to learn is an unequivocal truth: chefs love their meat.
Still, the roast beef sliders were so appealing, I actually ordered 2 [!] to go with my $4. Happy Hour Colette.
My only other hearty option was a fish sandwich, and I just wasn’t in the mood.
At just $2. each, it was an easy financial choice, and I have to say, they were the best sliders, of any sort, I’ve ever had.
A side of fries arrived at the table steeped in charm, in their own mini tureen.
What can I say?
I love details like this.
And an incredible, no-filler, $4. blue crab cake completed the meal.
I left there feeling like you do when you’ve been nurtured.
It may sound overly romantic, but this is the power places have [and food has].
I’m a fan of Lou’s and I’m looking forward to being introduced to the rest of the family.
*twEATDrink is Sarah Gore’s brainchild, getting the food-loving community together monthly to support independent restaurants in Denver.
Read more in my post about it here:
Lou’s Food Bar
1851 West 38th Avenue