Abejas, a community-focused restaurant dedicated to seasonality, will open its doors in Downtown Golden this summer. Set in the former Golden Skillet space at 807 13th Street, Abejas is the brainchild of industry veterans Brandon Bortles and Barry Dobesh and will be led in the kitchen by executive chef Nick Ames.
Brandon Bortles and Barry Dobesh, the Bs, as they are became known to their friends, chose the name Abejas (pronounced ah-bay-haus, bees in Spanish) to convey the meaning behind the bee. "Bees are industrious little bastards that symbolize agriculture, nature, and the fresh provisional menu behind Abejas," Bortles explains.
This new venture is the result of many years of friendship between Bortles and Dobesh who met in Golden and both have deep roots in the small town. After Dobesh graduated from the Colorado Art Institute's culinary program in 2002, he and Bortles became colleagues at the Hilltop Café in Golden. Dobesh next spent time working in Chicago, while Bortles moved on to manage New York restaurants. They returned to Denver in 2007 where Bortles worked at restaurants like Zengo and Bonanno Brothers Pizza. Dobesh is and will remain the executive chef at Aspen at Brexi and Steakhouse 360 in Aspen.
Bortles, who will run the front of the house at Abejas, met executive chef Nick Ames while he was working at Spuntino in Denver and was impressed by the quality, originality, and consistency of food that came out of the LoHi kitchen. Ames was about to relocate to Chicago, when he was approached about running the Abejas kitchen.
With somewhere around 50 seats in the restaurant, Abejas hopes to open its doors in late July. The design will pay homage to the historic Golden location, which was occupied at one point by a Piggly Wiggly Wholesale Grocery Store. The interior of the restaurant features reclaimed barn wood, corrugated metal, old doors, all from a ranch in Golden that was being sold.
Expect the menu (offered Tuesday through Sunday for dinner, Tuesday through Friday for lunch, and on weekends for brunch) to spotlight fresh local produce, organic meats, and sustainable fish. The beverage program brings light to craft distilleries and breweries, small production wineries, and classic cocktails.