Here’s the deal: Open serves just six types of sandwiches, and each is created by a different Denver chef. They’re sold daily from a counter at the back of a Denver bar, as well as online for delivery or pickup. And $1 from each sale is donated to a local food charity of the chefs’ choice.
For longtime restaurant server and manager Jake Riederer, the transition to opening his own restaurant was fast, starting in late November with a business plan and culminating with counter service by March.
If you go
Open is located within American Bonded at 2706 Larimer St. Order at the bar or online at opendenco.com. Open Mon.-Fri. 4 p.m.-midnight, Sat.-Sun. noon-midnight. 720-531-3969
For the past month, Riederer and his business partner, chef Jhon Chavez, have been serving sandwiches every day until midnight from the back of American Bonded bar on Larimer Street. To order, you can grab a seat anywhere in the bar, or go online before pulling up in the alleyway, and pick up your sandwiches from the back door.
Riederer wanted Open to be quick and easy but also “premium quality and chef-designed.”
“I think we are filling a niche that wasn’t being fulfilled before,” he said. “My hope was to create a space outside of the chef ego, even though our menu is driven by that. But if I’m going to ask these chefs for their recipes, I have to make it worthwhile for them.”
For the opening menu, Riederer tapped his chef friends who also happen to be some of Denver’s top culinary talent. The lineup includes Dana Rodriguez of Super Mega Bien and Work & Class; Jeff Osaka from Osaka Ramen and Sushi-Rama; Tommy Lee of Uncle and Hop Alley; sushi chef Toru Watanabe; Cliff Blauvelt from Tap & Burger concepts; and Chavez of Open.
Riederer said he liked the idea of featuring these chefs’ creations in “meals” (read: sandwiches) that cost $15. Plus, “How much cooler if we make some donations while we’re at it?”
He let the chefs choose their charity. All of them agreed on Project Angel Heart, whose former executive chef, Brandon Foster, died suddenly last year. Three days shy of Open’s first month, Riederer and Chavez had raised $1,645 to donate. And even with Chavez preparing five other chefs’ sandwiches, his own creation of a chile relleno between two sesame buns had risen to best-seller status.
If the business continues to do well, there could be another Open location in Denver’s future, or at least another crop of sandwiches (more chefs have reached out to Riederer with their own ideas).
And for anyone who thinks $15 is just too much for a sandwich, “I totally get that,” Riederer said. But he and Chavez are starting their employees at $17 an hour and planning to offer benefits like health coverage after the first year.
“There’s a kind way to do it, (which is) the right way to do it,” Riederer said about making sandwiches and opening a restaurant.
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