When details began to trickle out about the new restaurant that would take over the former home of Marlowe’s on the 16th Street Mall, much attention was paid to the restaurant’s, ahem, unusual name: West of Surrender Saloon & Kitchen.
But co-owner Gary Mantelli says a confused reaction is exactly what his team expected and wanted when they bestowed that bizarre moniker on the new spot, which opened earlier this week.
“We wanted people to think ‘what the heck is that name’ and ‘what were they thinking’ and that kind of stuff,” Mantelli says. “We wanted it to be a little unusual.”
The name, Mantelli says, actually refers to the motivation of many migrants who came west to Colorado and points beyond to escape pressure to surrender to their problems or old and established ways of living. In short, it’s a celebration of the Old West values of freedom and escape that also inform the restaurant’s own ethos, which is to offer a temporary escape from daily life in the form of a comfortable place to dine and drink.
A name that references Old West history is also particularly fitting for a restaurant occupying a portion of the 128-year-old Kittredge Building at 501 16th Street. Like Marlowe’s before it, West of Surrender embraces the look and feel of an old saloon and fans of the old occupant will recognize the building’s historic bar, columns, and woodwork.
Mantelli, however, says he and his team also wanted to give the place a modern shine, even as they retained the classic Western feel. Upgrades made in that vein include the addition of new chandeliers, a more modern tap system, several big screen TVs, and an improved sound system that will make diners glad to be at West of Surrender during Broncos games (though perhaps not this season given the team’s disappointing results).
The biggest change, however, is a renovation of Marlowe’s old upstairs mezzanine into a new lounge-like space called 1891 (that name is a nod to the year the building was constructed.) That space offers a panoramic view of not only the restaurant’s downstairs but the 16th Street Mall outside, which is visible through the large windows that take up much of the walls.
Mantelli said the restaurant’s menu, meanwhile, is intended to be 80 percent well-executed takes on approachable favorites that customers expect from a saloon-style restaurant, with the remaining 20 percent consisting of more unexpected and adventurous items.
The former category includes a fried chicken sandwich and a pot pie, which Mantelli said is already proving to be one of the restaurant’s most popular offerings. Options that fit the latter description, meanwhile, include the elk meatballs, lamb sliders topped with caramelized onions, and mango tamales topped with mole sauce.
West of Surrender is open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight.