Ask Denver restaurateur Lon Symensma why his Stapleton eatery, Concourse Restaurant Moderne, opened a few weeks later than expected last spring, and he’ll point up, to the dining room’s undulating wood-ribbed ceiling.
Comprising 70 rows of laser-cut, walnut-veneered wood, the ceiling took three weeks to assemble on site. Its graceful design, a physical representation of an invisible air current, is part of the restaurant’s subtle homage to its location: the former site of Stapleton International Airport.
The concept, envisioned by Symensma and Christopher Davis-Massey, co-founders of ChoLon Restaurant Concepts (which also includes Denver restaurants ChoLon, Cho77, and Kaya Kitchen), and chef/partner Luke Bergman, began with the name. “We said, ‘OK cool, we’re going to be on the old Stapleton airport runway. What does that mean?’ ” Symensma says. “We thought about the concept of a concourse, which is a lot like what a restaurant is: a place for people to gather. As we dug in [to the idea] and saw examples of well-known concourses around the world, like those at London’s King’s Cross railway station, Heathrow Airport, and the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, they began to drive our design.” The word “moderne” was inspired by the menu, which features forward-thinking takes on American classics (think: roasted beets paired with savory arugula sorbet instead of fresh greens).
LivStudio and Hive Construction brought the name to life by marrying curved forms and long horizontal lines (hallmarks of the Streamline Moderne style) with understated references to aviation. A sleek 15-seat wraparound bar is clad with glowy glass tile and lit by 51 exposed light bulbs. The tiled floor’s chevron-esque pattern evokes the motion of a moving sidewalk. Solid walnut tables and contoured, custom-upholstered booths and banquettes are accented with brass; sconces that look like airport-runway lights illuminate marble-tiled walls. “We wanted simple and timeless,” Davis-Massey says of the room’s neutral palette. “That way, when we bring a dish out on a simple white plate, the food speaks for itself.”
But don’t assume the sophisticated design means that Concourse is too fancy for the whole family. “That’s not the case at all,” Davis-Massey says. “We may be refined, but we welcome kids.” High style and high chairs? That’s a concept Stapleton families are sure to get on board with.