RiNo is Robert Thompson's next stop. The restaurateur, who also owns Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar and Punch Bowl Social, plans to open the Griffin, a modern German beer hall in a complex located at 3001 Brighton Boulevard. "Brighton is the new Bohemia," Thompson says. "There's a lot of artistic integrity in RiNo and a lot of commercial activism. Several people have pioneered this neighborhood for years and it doesn't take a lot of vision to see what the neighborhood will become in the next year or two years," he adds.
In a 5500 square foot space lined with six floor to ceiling glass garage doors, plus a 2500 square foot outdoor beer garden, Thompson plans to create a restaurant and beer hall serving food rooted in the cuisines of Germany, Denmark, and Turkey.
"Our cuisine will have a German, Alsacian, and Danish basis with Middle-Eastern influences. We are not trying to do a German sausage house, but rather to create a food board reflective of how Germany eats today. That, of course, includes Germany's zestier spicier younger brother, Turkish food," Thompson explains.
The menu is developed by chef John Broening, co-owner of Spuntino and culinary director for Thompson's other restaurants, Le Grand Bistro and soon-to-open Argyll Whisky Beer.
The doner kebab, a future staple item at the Griffin, is one of the most popular street foods in Germany today, thanks to the large Turkish immigrant population. German and Danish traditions will be represented through a meaningful charcuterie and sausage program featuring everything from Black Forest ham to liverwurst and merguez to kielbasa. Schnitzel will be a star of the menu. Four variations of the classic Austrian dish are planned: pork, short rib, duck, and cod. There will be a several flatbreads, fish in more than one form - smoked, pickled, and fresh, and hearty old-school entrees like the Alsacian choucroute garnie.
The goal is serve food that is complimentary to beer. The Griffin will have 40 taps featuring everything German the restaurant can import, as well as Colorado and other American beers that mimic European style brews. Beer aside, there will be a full beverage program- Thompson is looking into what kind of German marks and schnapps he can get in Colorado as a possible basis for the spirits program.
The space is being designed in collaboration with Becky Stone of OZ Architecture. Thompson first enlisted Stone's help for his Uptown project, Argyll Whisky Beer. Highlights of the interior elements at the Griffin include a keg box for the 40 beers sold on tap. Thompson envisions a long and skinny glass box in which kegs will be dropped with aid from a crane. A glass enclosure will also be built for the charcuterie program. "It's a work in progress. The vision is bohemian industrial with some modern danish silhouettes," Thompson explains. "Some of the best modern design comes from Denmark. The warmth will come from bohemian and some industrial elements and the crispness of the space will come from modern Danish silhouettes," he adds. Bonus: there will be two full size indoor bocci courts.
Why did Thompson choose the Griffin, a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle, as the name? "There is a certain virility to a griffin and it is simply cool. It is also a mythological creature that exist in the culture we will represents- Dutch, German, and the Middle East," Thompson says.
The building that will house the Griffin will open to office tenants, some 500 projected workers, in late March/early April. Thompson plans to start serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, plus weekend brunch in September.