Tony P’s is out and Juan P is in.
Denver restaurateur Juan Padro is getting ready to open a new restaurant in the former Tony P’s spot at 2400 W. 32nd Ave. in LoHi this year.
“I think it’s arguably the best corner in the city,” Padro said.
Tony Pasquini told BusinessDen in January that he’s moving his pizzeria after 15 years on the same corner into a smaller space more suited for takeout, just two blocks south at 3000 Zuni St.
Padro purchased the remaining five-year lease from Pasquini last month for the 2,300-square-foot pizzeria and the adjacent 1,500-square-foot bar called Zio Romolo’s Alley Bar. Pasquini opened both in 2007.
Padro and chef Corey Baker plan to open a Japanese restaurant called Kumoya, which means “cloud shop,” by the end of the year.
Baker has worked with Japanese cuisine for the last 20 years, and has visited Japan four times. He was previously executive chef and part owner of Sushi Ronin and Izakaya Ronin, worked at Sushi Den and helped open Sushi Hai in the Highlands.
“Opening a restaurant and leaving it in someone else’s hands feels like dropping your kids off at daycare forever,” Baker said. “I’ve been doing restaurant consulting for the past two years, but I want to put my roots down more permanently.”
Baker’s wife Jana also worked for Padro’s restaurant group, Culinary Creative, for eight years, which is how the two formed a friendship.
“This guy is as good as it gets, and we’ve been wanting to do something for a long time,” Padro said. “The core of who we are is our creatives, and the core of what we do is put them in a position to be successful, which makes us different from a traditional restaurant group. But it allows us to keep putting out concepts that are unique and challenge norms.”
Kumoya will serve elevated sashimi dishes, specialized nigiri, a small selection of sushi rolls, handmade dumplings and noodles, plus traditional Japanese dishes like katsu sando, a fried pork sandwich. Culinary Creative partner and Culinary Director Max Mackissock will be helping Baker in the kitchen.
Kumoya will be designed around the sushi bar in the main pizzeria space, and it will also have a traditional bar in the old Zio Romolo’s space, where Baker plans to serve late night food.
“I’m always evolving with Japanese food, so I want to bring those craveable things you can only get in Japan to Denver,” Baker said. “Things that not even Matsuhisa or Uchi have.”
Culinary Creative owns nine concepts around town, including cocktail bar Forget Me Not in Cherry Creek. The bar’s building at 227 Clayton St. was sold to Denver-based developer Alpine Investments in June, when the company paid $25.2 million for it and the Cherry Cricket building to the south. Padro said he believes Forget Me Not’s building will be demolished in five years.
In addition to Kumoya, Padro is opening Fox and The Hen, a breakfast concept down the street, in November, a new cocktail bar in Cherry Creek called Caldera, and is building a Detroit-style pizza joint in Jefferson Park, which he plans to open in September.