"Daddy, can I have more Facon please?"
"Absolutely, Princess Fiona."
Facon is a breakfast regular in the Cucci household. "We're about 70-80% vegetarian," explains Justin. So it comes as no surprise that his menus at Linger, Root Down, Ophelia's, Root Down DIA, and the recently opened Vital Root have a heavy vegetable focus. His oldest, Ella is 100% vegetarian though, and has always loved being in the kitchen.
"The absolute last place in the world I want her to work is in this industry. I want her to go to school and be an architect."
But he allows her in his restaurant kitchens frequently. "She's been coming with me since the beginning; my staff has watched her, and now Fiona, grow up. I love bringing the kids to work. Ella used to always be into the sweets and desserts; she's always making things with the chefs and having me try her creations. But in the last year, I've seen her start to take interest in savory food."
He says this as Ella fries up eggs for the family; eggs that Denielle, Cucci's wife, collected from their chickens that morning.
Their parenting style is nothing if not a bit irreverent and incredibly inclusive. They laugh at themselves and their lack of censoring. "There is so much stuff that Ella gets that other people probably think she shouldn't. Like everything on Netflix," says Denielle.
Justin continues: "She has a wicked good sense of humor though. And imagination. They both do. They are such individuals, but both strong-willed and creative."
And their parenting tack celebrates that individuality and creativity, pushing boundaries and giving freedom.
"Fatherhood defines me. It sets something in front of you that isn't you, but it is you. In a way, it's very egotistical, but it's also very self-sacrificing all at the same time. It's an interesting dichotomy."
This mentality bleeds into his restaurants, too. Denielle says, "It's all-inclusive. He treats his employees like family and includes them in our lives."
"I'm the father there in a weird way too. I know that my employees hate to disappoint me. And I want them to have as much as exposure and success as I do, if not more," explains Cucci.
Justin has two daughters and lives in Denver, along with his wife, two dogs, and some chickens. He owns 5 restaurants in the city, including the brand new Vital Root, which officially opens on June 15.