The varied and often underappreciated possibilities of cooking with vegetables will be the focus of Somebody People, a new vegan restaurant that is set to open in late September on South Broadway near Mississippi Avenue.
The new restaurant is a collaboration between Samuel and Tricia Maher, the couple behind the Scam Likely series of Denver vegan pop-up dinners, and Simonas Sungaila, a chef who comes to Denver after one previous stint at the Fiola Italian restaurant in Washington DC and another at a zero-waste restaurant in his home country. Samuel is also the former GM of Union Station hotspot Mercantile Dining and Provision.
Samuel said the trio’s vision for the restaurant is driven by a desire to create a restaurant that is moving toward zero waste and zero harm and adopting systems and practices in service to that goal. That means Somebody People will implement a full composting system and not offer to-go containers or coffees.
The food program, meanwhile, will seek to refute what Sungaila describes as the negative connotation of vegan cooking as being about inferior substitutes by showcasing and celebrating local vegetables. The focus will be on shared plates with a Mediterranean theme that Samuel said is inspired by the experience of dining on Italy’s Amalfi coast. Possible dishes will include raviolis and other pastas, tomato mousse and radishes served in nut butter and oil.
Somebody People will be located at 1165 South Broadway in a space that was most recently home to The Denver Tea Room & Coffee Salon. Samuel said he was attracted to the location because he is excited about what he described as the “up-and-coming feel” of the neighborhood. He also said the kitchen and 65-seat dining area are the right size for his vision to produce menus consisting of 14 to 16 dishes. The team also liked that the space includes a bar, which will be incorporated into the new restaurant.
The interior look is inspired by the vibe of Palm Beach in the 1950s and 1960s with lots of seafoam green and pink. A group of female Denver graffiti artists have been tapped to paint murals for the space, while a mix of local and international photographers are also contributing photographs.
In keeping with the Mediterranean theme, the 60 bottles of mostly all-natural, biodynamic, and unfined wine the restaurant will stock will come mostly from that region, though there will also be a selection of wines from Samuel’s native Australia.
Somebody People, which takes its name from a line in the David Bowie song “Five Years” and suggests the restaurant team’s vision to see vegan diners as “somebody,” will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.