Welcome to Front & Center, a series highlighting front of the house professionals in Denver restaurants. Right now, Gabby Gourmet's Marcia Polas gives a shout-out to bartender Katie Maux Curtin of Luca d'Italia:
There are people in this world who have a natural ability to make you feel welcome and at home, and as if you belong. The first time I walked into Luca d'Italia, I sat at the bar and immediately understood that I had found one of those people. Katie Maux Curtin welcomed me, introduced herself, and immediately gained my trust. If this sounds like an odd thing to require of a bartender, you aren't yet aware that I'm a severe celiac who suffers respiratory distress with the slightest gluten cross-contamination. So trust is a pretty big deal. Becoming comfortable and being able to completely relax is like discovering the Holy Grail.
Maux owns her bar with a confidence and vivacious effervescence that can't be faked, and has a memory for faces and preferences that will knock your socks off. Whether you sit down for a cocktail as you wait on your table, or make the bar your intended destination, Maux is the perfect hostess at the party you're so glad you decided to attend.
Since March, I've become a regular at Luca. Maux is one of the main reasons why. She knows what I need, no matter the situation or my mood. Lousy day? Maux will simply take over and offer you the right beverage to take the edge off. Not capable of making one more decision? Maux knows her patrons and will suggest a snack or four-course meal that is exactly what you didn't know you needed. Meeting a client? She'll provide impressive service and the right amount of privacy. Have a date? She has that bartender sixth-sense to know if you want her to make herself scarce or need a buffer!
The restaurant and bar can both be packed and Maux will still anticipate your every need. The woman is unflappable and has a grin best described as contagious. I teach pilates to the Luca chefs and know that they understand how to feed a celiac beautifully, and the front of house staff is always warm welcoming — but I dare say, nobody in Denver has Maux's combination of charm, poise, and joy.
Recently, I learned just how much Maux has my back. She told me that she would love to fix me up with someone, she just hasn't yet found anyone good enough. And yes, I would trust her with that too.
Katie Maux Curtin [Photo: Adam Larkey]