Neil Maxwell, a beloved and long-time server at Rioja, passed away on Sunday, November 15 after a long illness. Maxwell joined the staff led by chef Jennifer Jasinski and her partner Beth Gruitch when the Larimer Square restaurant opened 11 years ago. Prior to that, he graced the dining rooms at Piatti in Cherry Creek and Denver Buffalo Company on Lincoln Street and Sambuca with his effortless service.
"Neil truly loved taking care of people and making them happy," Rioja owner Beth Gruitch shared. "He was always upbeat and thinking of others - even in the end when he was thanking people at the hospital. He was gracious, sweet and quick-witted and never shied away from taking the "difficult" tables. Always volunteered to work our charity events."
"He was so gentle and sweet and loved serving people - making their night special," chef Jennifer Jasinski added. "He was always the most "requested" server when guests would return to Rioja."
John Imbergamo, a longtime Denver restaurant consultant who works with Rioja, shared these words about Maxwell: "In these difficult times for restaurant service, Neil was a true professional with a deep understanding of the techniques and attitude necessary for hospitality. He was genuinely happy to serve you and frequent guest requests for his station confirmed his skills."
A celebration of Neil's life with family, friends, co-workers will take place on Friday, November 20 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Euclid Hall (1317 14th Street). No RSVP necessary.