Bob Reiter always had plans to expand his restaurant business after opening American Elm in West Highland two years ago.
And he didn’t have to look too far.
Last week, Reiter purchased the vacant restaurant building at 4140 W. 38th Ave., adjacent to American Elm. It was most recently home to Revelry Kitchen, which moved to Tennyson Street in 2019 and permanently closed in January.
Reiter has no concrete plans for the 2,500-square-foot space yet, but he said he is considering expanding his modern American concept, turning it into an event space, or opening a new restaurant.
“We take our role in the neighborhood very seriously, and the dynamic of this place, which is servicing our neighborhood and staying local, will absolutely transfer over to whatever we do next door,” Reiter said. “We’re excited to keep it in the neighborhood.”
Reiter moved to Denver from New York, where he spent nearly a decade working in the restaurant and live music industry.
He purchased American Elm’s building at 4132 W. 38th Ave. in 2017 for $1 million, according to public records, and opened the restaurant in 2019. He aimed to emulate the neighborhood eateries with a relaxed atmosphere and high-quality food he came across in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Reiter said he is meeting with architects and general contractors to decide whether or not he should remodel or entirely scrape the former Revelry building.
For the time being, Reiter said he’s excited to have secured 18 parking spaces, as he currently leases some across the alley. He also plans to utilize the extra kitchen space to resume weekly meals, charcuterie and wine kits, and holiday meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which he sold to the neighborhood throughout the pandemic.
“Parking is huge, and not only that, but this opportunity also creates an outlet for our team creatively,” Reiter said. “American Elm is autonomously functional, so it’s a way to create something new and cool for the neighborhood and give our team something to invest their creative energy into, which is super powerful for artistic people.”
Reiter purchased the adjacent building from longtime landlord Delores Avila-Martinez for $1.425 million, according to Red Chair Realty Advisors broker Rick Flanagan, who represented the seller. Mark Valente with Sanborn and Company represented Reiter.
Avila-Martinez purchased the property in 1974, and told BusinessDen she originally planned to open a Mexican restaurant with her late husband, Florentino Avila. But he fell ill with kidney failure and had to go on dialysis, so “we couldn’t go through with our plan,” she said. He died in 1988.
“Even though we couldn’t do it ourselves, we decided to put it up for rent and we ended up having three Mexican restaurants in a row there,” Avila-Martinez said.
A native of Guadalajara, Mexico, Avila-Martinez worked as a bilingual teacher for 20 years and said being a landlord helped put her six children through college.
“I never thought I would keep the building for so long, but it was so much fun to work with so many good people,” Avila-Martinez said. “They were very respectful and nice, and I never had any problems with renters. To me, it was like an adventure to have something to do and see how the businesses were doing.”
Avila-Martinez, 88, said when the pandemic hit, she decided “it was time to sell and move forward.” She listed the property in March of this year for $1.5 million, and said she now wants to travel. Guadalajara, which she hasn’t visited in two years, is first on the list of destinations, which also includes Rome.
“We don’t like to sit down and do nothing,” she said. “We are always keeping busy.”