When Bremen’s Wine & Tap moved out of its Lower Highland neighborhood perch at 2005 W. 33rd Ave. after less than a year in business, any number of places could have rushed to fill the space, given that it’s surrounded by fast-rising condos, historic homes and plenty of other trendy eateries and bars.
As it turns out, the concept taking its place — Ash’Kara — has some of the same ownership, but also new, high-profile investors who will co-own the planned Israeli restaurant.
“Bachelor” star and entrepreneur-about-town Ben Higgins, who calls the Mile High City home, is one of the co-owners of Ash’Kara. The restaurant will be overseen by chef Daniel Asher (Acreage, River and Woods).
Well-known locally for heading up restaurants in the same neighborhood as Ash’Kara, including Linger and Root Down, Asher is planning on showcasing flavors from across the Middle East, according to Denver Eater, with “grilled meats coated in harissa and zhug, pita and lavash breads dipped in hummus, muhammara, and baba ghanoush.”
Higgins, in a post on his Mahogany Table site, called his new gig as a restaurateur “a childhood dream,” citing a restaurant called Stacy’s outside Warsaw, Ind., that inspired and comforted him in his childhood (however smokily).
“The atmosphere was even better than the food,” he wrote. “Christmas lights hung from the tiled ceiling. The bar’s massive mirror made the restaurant look twice its size, ashtrays lined tables covered in plastic tablecloths, and smoking was allowed. A blend of tenderloin, fried food, and cigarettes permeated the air. Grease, family, friends, and ranch dressing was what “going out to dinner” in the ’90s looked like — and it was wonderful.”
While Ash’Kara has an anticipated January opening, Higgins is already sharing images of menu items while hyping up the place, which is co-owned by Bremen’s Dina Castillo. Earlier this year, Castillo told The Know that whatever filled Bremen’s space would be less a departure and more a “re-concepting,” following a spate of experimentation at Bremen’s — formerly the site of longtime Mexican cafe Rosa Linda’s.
Part of Ash’Kara’s draw will, no doubt, be the fact that Higgins will be hanging around. But celebrity appeal does not a successful restaurant make, and Higgins is only one part of the ownership team, which includes Castillo and Higgins’ buddy Juan Pedro (Bar Dough) of Culinary Creative Group.
“It’s gonna be a nice restaurant, but it’s going to be one that’s also relaxed, with wild Israeli music and a cocktail bar,” Higgins told Delish.
We’re inclined to agree. With the surfeit of high-calorie comfort foods, fusion stunts and cocktail obsessed menus floating around Denver at the moment, an upscale Middle Eastern restaurant sounds like something we could actually use right now. (No word on if Higgins’ “Bachelor” ex, the newly single Kaitlyn Bristowe, is lining up any of her own Colorado concepts.)