Since LYFE Kitchen shuttered in March, the 5,160-square-foot restaurant venue at the corner of Pearl and 16th streets in Boulder has sat vacant. That’s about to change, as Emmerson, the all-day “neo-bistro” going into space begins to take shape; it aims to open before the end of July. The name, which is a play on the spelling of wild emmer and the idea of an “& sons” concept, is a nod to the 125-seat restaurant’s underlying focus: grains.
The ambitious project is the brainchild of Ben Kaplan, a successful entrepreneur and investor in Oak at Fourteenth, Brider, and the Source Hotel, to name a few. Kaplan has assembled a diverse lineup of seasoned restaurant vets—all of whom retain partner stakes in the biz—to (man)power Emmerson. Both chef Michael Gibney (author of Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line; formerly of Tavern on the Green and 10 Downing) and chef Jeb Breakell (Daniel, Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, and Atera) moved from New York City to Colorado for the gig. General manager Tre Gerbitz (previously of Walnut Restaurant Group) and beverage director and assistant general manager Ben Foote (who was, until recently, bar manager at Blackbelly Market) were both Boulder finds.
Emmerson will be open morning through night, with a casual, counter-service vibe during the day and full-service, fine dining in the evening (similar to Mercantile Dining & Provision or Concourse Restaurant Moderne). Grains will be the “through-line of all the different services,” Kaplan says. The kitchen will focus on house-baked breads and pastries, as well as porridges and sandwiches during daylight service. At 2 p.m., the pastry counter will transform into a crudo bar and the coffee shop-esque space will give way to happy hour. Come evening, the dining room will offer a more elegant, sit-down feel and a menu of house-made pastas and more. Grain-based spirits will anchor the bar program, which Kaplan intends to be one of the best in the state. We can’t wait to eat and drink our way through Emmerson’s many menus to see if that is indeed the case.