Soy vey: Attorney's organic restaurant files bankruptcy

Gnarly root closed recently, after opening in the spring.

Gnarly root closed recently, after opening in the spring.

After opening in April, a vegan-friendly restaurant in Parker has flipped its last bean burger.

The Gnarly Root opened this spring in the spot previously occupied by the chain Italian restaurant Johnny Carino’s near Parker Adventist Hospital. On Tuesday, it filed for Chapter 7 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Denver with $190,000 in debt and $100,000 in assets.

Restaurant owner Shelly Rosnik, an attorney working as a solo practitioner, will represent her business in court. Reached by phone, she said the location is 6,400-square-feet and accommodates up to 250 people.

“It’s a perfect location, the building was beautiful and it was the perfect platform for all the arts and live music that I wanted to do,” she said. “But we needed to be turning 120 tables a day and we were turning 30. Right next door, Chick-fil-A was jam packed while we sat empty.”

The restaurant, at 9355 Crown Crest Blvd. in Parker, had sales just shy of $370,000 in the months it was open, according to the bankruptcy filing.

Rosnik’s vision for The Gnarly Root was organic foods and dishes friendly to customers on a vegan, paleo or gluten-free diet, she said. She also hoped The Gnarly Root would be a neighborhood hangout – a place to see local art and music.

But Rosnik, a first-time restaurant owner, said the restaurant manager overspent on food and hired too many employees. The Gnarly Root lists nearly 40 employees in its bankruptcy filings.

And as part of her lease, Rosnik agreed to renovate the building’s HVAC, duct and plumbing systems, adding overhead costs before the restaurant opened its doors.

On review websites Yelp and OpenTable, diners praised The Gnarly Root for daring to start a non-chain restaurant in Parker, especially one with meals for people with dietary restrictions.

Reviewers also complained of wait staff forgetting to serve their meals, simple orders taking so long that customers left before ordering a main course, or stiff chairs and noisy acoustics.

Reviews on OpenTable show that the restaurant was open as recently as August 9.

In an email to BusinessDen, Rosnik wrote that she was “completely devastated” to close The Gnarly Root.

“I poured everything into the restaurant,” she wrote. “What could have gone wrong did. I am so sorry to the community, employees, vendors, and everyone else I hurt in this venture.”

A graduate of the University of Denver law school, Rosnik said she is wrapping up cases at her law practice and looking for her next job.

“I don’t know what I am going to do next,” Rosnik wrote in an email on Tuesday.

POSTED IN News, Restaurants, Top News

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