Opening a Restaurant the BRF Way
It’s happening, y’all! The Post Brewing Company is hitting Boulder and we could not be more giddy. As we find ourselves in single digit days until opening, submerged in the chaos of menu prep, paint jobs, and other surprise final touches, it’s fun to dive into the mind that drives it all and find out how we manage to get to the finish line, every time. That mind is, of course, Dave Query.
However, before we jump into all off that, I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself. So hi, my name is Alex and I’m the creative intern and, more importantly in the context of his post, the resident Gen Z youngster at BigRedF HQ (seriously, Zolo is older than me). You wanna know a little about me? Sure, why not. Well, I’m often described as a “firecracker”, probably because of my red hair, quick wit, and spunky ‘tude, I drink copious amounts of black coffee and La Croix (Passionate Fruit is my fave), and firmly believe that curiosity never killed the cat. This is my first restaurant opening with BigRedF, and it’s been incredibly exciting to get to see all that is happening and all of the hard work that goes into creating an excellent dining environment. And now that you know and trust me, I’m pleased to share with you all of the insight and advice I acquired whilst chatting with DQ.
To really paint a good picture for you, let’s start at the beginning. DQ opened his first restaurant, Lick Skillet in Gold Hill, back in the ‘80s and has since fathered a network of uniquely curated restaurants all along the Front Range, with a handful concentrated around his home base since childhood, the heart of downtown Boulder.
As a student at the University of Colorado, Boulder (sko buffs!), before I worked for BigRedF or even knew what it was, my friends and I were obsessed with the cornbread skillet and chicken & biscuits at West End Tavern, margaritas and chips & guac at Centro, and the never-ending Monday night happy hour goodness at Jax. These seemingly different-in-every-way restaurants offer the same consistently incredible service and hospitality, amazing flavors and upbeat atmospheres of fun and inclusivity that really jive with the 9th & Pearl block. There’s just something about a BigRedF restaurant that makes people feel at home and taken care of, and that special ingredient is carefully woven into every detail of the process from day 1 to day 1,000. I was curious as to what that process looked like, so I sat down with DQ to gain some insight.
What is the most important thing you look for in a new space?
Soul. Funk. Traffic. Energy. Nearby restaurants. Lots of residential housing. Nice landlord. Space potential.
After acquiring a new space, where does your mind go first? Space layout? Menu and how diners will want to experience the space? Fixtures and furnishings?
How we are going to pay for all this madness?
How does that guide the rest of the process and how much of it is planned ahead of time vs. in-the-moment gut decisions?
Lots of in the moment decisions are made…sometimes too many. If you try and plan it all out ahead of time, it never works. Every time you peel back a wall, there are surprises and costs associated.
You notoriously don’t hire interior designers for your restaurants…so where do you get your vision/inspiration? How much of that is inspired by the brand and menu?
We like to create spaces that feel comfortable first, and “design” second. A lot of restaurants designers spend too much time looking at pictures and don’t have a clue about what is realistic and functional restaurant design. It looks great to start, but you’re constantly repairing and replacing things because they aren’t designed with high traffic in mind, purely monetary aesthetic.
What excites you most as an opening nears? What are you most excited for with opening The Post Brewing Company in Boulder?
Well, I love nears. So anytime there is a nears to be had, I’m all about it. As far as this new opening in Boulder, I haven’t opened a restaurant in Boulder in almost 9 years so it’s fun to be back in the ‘hood doing something fun and cool.
What’s your #1 tip for any first-timer opening a restaurant?
Get more money.
In the words of DQ, in an interview with Eater Denver back in 2013, “There’s not an appreciation for the incredible amount of work it takes to make a really successful restaurant. Anyone can open a restaurant. All you need is money. Any idiot can. I think that the advice would be to earn your stripes and work and learn your craft. Spend the time it takes to understand what you’re doing, get as much exposure as you can, and when you have the privilege to open your restaurant recognize it’s a lot of responsibility. Think about spending a half a million dollars or a lot more and go into opening a restaurant half cooked, where then your investors also lose their money and everyone is out of work and the landlord has a mess on their hands. Take it seriously; it’s a big deal.”
It’s a big F’n deal.