Nearly four months ago, Jonathan Greschler accepted a manager position at Coohills after a rocky departure from Old Major. Yesterday afternoon, Greschler made the decision to move on from the French restaurant owned by Tom and Diane Coohill. What promoted the break-up? Greschler says he was simply not happy there. He spent a few days away from Denver, first in New York City where he joined the Denver FIVE team at the dinner they served at the James Beard House, then with his family in Florida. And when he got back to Denver, returning to his managerial position at Coohills simply did not feel right.
For his part, chef and owner Tom Coohill wishes the sommelier all the best: "We truly wish Jon all the best. He is a great guy with great qualities, but these things happen. Sometimes it takes a while to realize that a person is not happy in a certain environment. If people are not comfortable here, they should not stay in a place that doesn't make them happy."
While entirely unrelated, Greschler's departure is timed only a day away from that of Anika Zappe, one of the bartenders that joined the Coohills team in July. Zappe packed up her bar tools yesterday and moved them over to Star Bar. "There isn't anything extraordinary about my departure from Coohills. I really love what those guys are doing- Noah is a great teacher and mentor and he put in place a team that kills it behind the bar," Zappe says. "For me, I call the time since I left Punch Bowl Social, my summer break. This is the time when I just have fun. Let's just say that I am dating around and trying new things but I am not marrying anyone," she adds. Zappe will spend at least the next few weeks at Star Bar where she plans on landing a hand through Oktoberfest and the Great American Beer Festival. And while she keeps on tending bar, she is working on a plan to open her own place.
Noah Heaney, the beverage director at the LoDo restaurant, seems more inspired than ever to raise the bar for cocktails. Heaney just returned from a trip to Chicago where he spent four full days staging at the Aviary, the cocktail lounge adjecent to Next, a restaurant by acclaimed chef Grant Achatz and his partner, Nick Kokonas. This year, the Aviary received the James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program. "I have learned so much in these four days - a lifetime worth of education at any other bar," Heaney shares.
"It was incredible to see how they treat their bar like a restaurant. The people working there are like chefs and alcohol is used as another medium to create a culinary product. It was eye-opening," he adds. Heaney came back armed with techniques he looks forwared to mastering, incorporating into new drinks at Coohills, and sharing with his staff.
Speaking of his staff, both Heaney and Zappe stressed that Colin Dart and Carly Harris are the ones to watch behind the bar at Coohills. Dart was the bar manager at Le Grand Bistro where he first worked with Zappe. More recently, he mixed drinks at the Bitter Bar in Boulder. Heaney calls him "a rockstar" without any reservations. Carly Harris came from Punch Bowl Social with no bartending experience. "Carly is a perfect example of what perseverance and dedication can do. She wanted to work behind the bar and three months later she earned the title of bartender," Heaney says.
· Sean Kenyon and Nick Touch Out at the Bean, Brian Smith In [EDen]
· A New Era Begins Behind the Bar at Coohills With a Hot Cocktail and Wine Team [EDen]
· Noah Heaney Starts Work at Coohills, Anika Zappe Leaves Punch Bowl [EDen]
· Jonathan Greschler, Former GM at Old Major, Lands Job at Coohills [EDen]
· Old Major Front of the House Shuffle: Some Leave, Attardi Joins the Team [EDen]