There are 52 seats in the 1,400 square feet that makes up RiNo's new hot spot Work & Class. Last Wednesday night, the restaurant hosted over 300 guests with wait times that were close to two hours of a four-top. Last Wednesday was not the restaurant's biggest night yet, just the norm in the last couple of weeks as more some are inching on becoming regulars and many are flocking to check out the eatery owned by Delores Tronco, Tony Maciag, and Dana Rodriguez.
Located at 2500 Larimer Street, Work & Class bolted right out of the gate winning the hearts of those who experienced its food, drinks, and hospitality. The restaurant is number one of the March Heatmap, made Zagat's Hottest Restaurants in 15 U.S. Cities list, and got an honorable mention from 5280 Magazine food editor Amanda Faison as the one restaurant she is most excited about post-cutoff date for the Best New Restaurants list.
Eater talked Delores Tronco to learn about the roller coaster that has been the last few weeks at Work & Class.
Work & Class is not yet seven weeks old, how has it all been? Wonderful and absolutely shocking. It was shocking to have such a smooth start. We expected, just like anyone else does, that there will be bumps and problems and that you will have to pick up the pieces and fix them all up. We have been busy but things have been really smooth.
How did your expectations match up the reality? The reality is that we have been incredibly busy. We expected to not be busy, to beg your friends and family to tell their friends and family about our restaurant and to ask them to come. I cannot tell you the number of night when I stood up straight in my bed wondering what would happen if no one came in. So right now, I feel great. I stop and think: I'm not gonna lose my house. We are proud of it all and excited and we don't take being busy for granted.
What was the biggest surprise? The response from the neighborhood. Our neighborhood has been great. We did our research and we knew there were people living in the vicinity but you never really know if the census numbers will turn into actual customers. We started to build a relationship with our neighborhood from the very beginning and started to get regulars in here already, people that we are beginning to get to know who come in two or three times a week.
Did you have any big curve balls to deal with as you opened? We got our liquor license came at 2 p.m. on the day of our first soft opening. So there was that. We couldn't get the building department to come soon enough. In the span of one afternoon, I had to go to five different government offices to get the right signatures. When we got an inspector in here, he told us we needed an alarm permit before the liquor license. So we went ahead and got that. It was a comedy of errors. We haven't done this before and there were things that slipped. Not for lack of effort, but we were not prepared enough.
Is there one thing that you would do differently if you were to turn back the clock? If there was a way to make it so that the poeple most involved- our core staff- could have sat back and gotten to enjoy it all as it unfolded, that would have been great. you are so busy and buried in teh details that it is easy to just miss how incredible the whole experience is. It may be the nature of the business, but there is no way to see the forest through the trees, to get an aerial view and just enjoy.
What are the crowd favorite dishes so far? The blue corn empanadas by sheer numbers. The second most popular dish is the New Jersey Ernie's meatballs. That means a lot to me. We created that dish in honor of my dad. We lost him in May last year. It is his recipe that we used. It is very personal and very cool to see people enjoy it. Every time we serve it and people say- these are the best meatballs- I feel so proud and lucky. If the dish wasn't selling, we couldn't keep it on, but it's a definite favorite of our guests.
· Work & Class Preview: Ready to Roast, Dish, Pour [EDen]
· The March Heatmap: Where to Eat Right Now [EDen]
· The Hottest Restaurants in 15 U.S. Cities [Zagat]
· Amanda Faison of 5280 Reveals How She Selected The Top New Restaurants [EDen]