In reporting this morning’s post about Fruition‘s spectacular grilled Spanish octopus dish, some important news surfaced. First, Stephanie Caraway, the sommelier with Food & Wine accolades who came aboard in August to revamp the wine and front-of-the-house programs, is being replaced by one-time-Fruition server and wine guy Aaron Foster. “This is a mutual parting of ways,” chef-owner Alex Seidel says, while acknowledging that the restaurant’s wine platform has improved significantly. “Stephanie comes from the winery, education side [but] I don’t know if the timing was right for her.” Caraway’s last day is Sunday. Foster will pick up where she leaves off, and in fact, the two have been working on the transition together.
Seidel remembers telling Foster before he left Fruition for Elway’s and eventually Fuel Cafe, he hoped that, someday, the two of them would get to do something together. Now, that conversation is becoming a reality. “A lot of our servers have been here since Day One and they’re looking forward to having him come back,” Seidel says. One thing Foster, who was most recently the general manager at Fuel, will not oversee is the wine program at Mercantile Dining & Provision, Seidel’s new restaurant opening in Union Station this summer. For that position, Seidel says he’s looking out of state.
As Mercantile becomes more fully realized, there are also changes afoot in Fruition’s kitchen. With chef de cuisine Matt Vawter transitioning over to the new entity, Seidel hired Francisco Ruiz to take his place. Ruiz—everyone calls Franco—came aboard about six months ago. He’s a seasoned chef who has staged in Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain and ultimately moved from San Diego to help open Hops & Pie. “He’s a really good addition,” Seidel says.
In an industry known to be volatile, change is inevitable. But if my latest meal at Fruition is any indication, the seven-year-old restaurant is weathering adjustments to the front and the back of the house beautifully. For Seidel, that’s what counts: “Fruition is the baby and the heart of the brand. Without it, there is no Mercantile and no farm,” he says. “We talk about that a lot at the restaurant.”
1313 E. Sixth Ave., 303-831-1962
—Image courtesy of Shutterstock