Like the wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing, a few things are not what they seem at chef Kelly Whitaker’s forthcoming restaurant. Located at 4058 Tejon Street, The Wolf’s Tailor will be a neighborhood place, complete with a 1,200-square-foot backyard for enjoying snacks and drinks. It will also be a chef’s tasting space, where diners can drop cash on a special coursed menu with exact pairings. And, most of all, it will be a nightly meal spot, selling approachable noodles and skewers and braises in a comfortable 2,000-square-foot setting. For the food, Whitaker is leaning on long traditions like spiadini (skewers) in Italy and donabe (clay pot cooking) in Japan. But even with Italian pastas, kebabs, and Japanese pots on the menu, don’t expect this to be a fusion restaurant.
From the team that brought Basta to Boulder and Cart-Driver (though they’ve since pulled out of the business) to RiNo, The Wolf’s Tailor will likely be another spot slightly ahead of — or apart from — the sprinting Denver restaurant scene. Its name alludes to pulling back a curtain, exposing customers to the reality behind the scenes. But that doesn’t mean diners will be interacting with the chef and his team inside an open kitchen. The “tailors” of this operation will largely be evident through its menu; Whitaker uses Colorado heritage grains to make breads and pastas and bran-pickled vegetables, stews like zuppa di pesce utilize every part of the animal, and even skewered meats can be fired in their own bone charcoals.
On a lighter note, architects Kevin Nguyen and Scott Lawrence (who most recently designed Call) are building out the space. Beverage director Alan Henkin, who coined that magical “Prosecco on tap” for Cart-Driver, is working on a highball that could end all half-mixed imposters. The whole founding team is heading to Japan for research a month before opening. And the finished restaurant will be flowered with ikebana arrangements made by Whitaker’s wife Erika. However it’s packaged, though, by the time this curious destination opens for business in Sunnyside, we have a feeling the regional masses will be flocking.