Exciting dining options are on the horizon in LoDo, with UltreiaMorin, and the Denver Milk Market food hall, for starters, staking claims on the appetites of downtown diners in 2018. And today, Lon Symensma and his ChoLon Restaurant Concepts business partner Christopher Davis-Massey, along with Grant McCargo of Urban Villages, Inc., revealed that they’re opening two new restaurants in the historic SugarCube Building: LeRoux and Kaya.

Starting with the concept you may already know, Kaya (also known as Kaya Kitchen, the southeast Asian stall at LoHi’s Avanti Food & Beverage) will be an expansion of the incubator concept. Fast-casual Kaya will open for breakfast and lunch on weekdays and brunch on weekends—dine-in or to-go—from the storefront on the northwest side of the two adjoining 16th Street spaces. There will be more of Kaya’s scrumptious signature kaya toast, as well as banh mi, pho, noodle bowls, and even an eggs Benedict bao with green curry hollandaise and smoked ham. Dumplings and other dim sum fare will also be on the menu, as well a beverage program including Vietnamese coffee, bubble teas, lassis, and more.

The second concept is LeRoux, a more upscale restaurant featuring European-inspired cuisine. An entirely new venture, LeRoux marks ChoLon Restaurant Concepts’ fifth Denver brand. Symensma says LeRoux won’t be wedded to a French bistro theme—although there will be some bistro fare such as choucroute garnie and apple tarte tatin. “We are going to keep things more Provençal and Mediterranean at LeRoux,” Symensma says, “using olive oil instead tons of butter and cream, fresh herbs, and lots of vegetables.” The menu will be influenced by the cuisines of Spain, Italy, and Germany, too. This kind of cooking is how Symensma got his start, attending the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Hyde Park in the late 1990s and training in Europe—including stints at two of France’s two-Michelin-star restaurants, La Bastide St. Antoine and Moulin de Mougin, and training under chefs Georges Blanc and Paul Bocuse—before settling to work in New York City under luminaries such as Daniel Boulud, Gray Kunz, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Symensma intends LeRoux to be a charming lunch-and-dinner spot during the week, with a special brunch menu on weekends. Named after chef Xavier LeRoux, an impactful instructor from Symensma’s time as a CIA fellow, the restaurant will feature tableside preparations and a cheese cart, as well as Symensma’s twists on scallops, escargot, and the like. Fans of ChoLon’s exquisite French onion soup dumplings will be particularly excited to see what he does with a dish he’s calling, for now, “French onion short ribs.”

Both restaurants are being built out and designed by the talented architects at Semple Brown, also known for their work on the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and restaurants such as Tavernetta and Citizen Rail. Inspired by a blue-and-brass bistro aesthetic, LeRoux will glitter with big mirrors, a swanky bar, chandeliers, and a glass-encased wine tower. Several seating areas will mean that guests can pick their favorite corner to tuck into. Kaya will be dressed in rich yellow with chic industrial polished concrete and wood elements. Thanks to Semple Brown’s creative design plan, Kaya will also be able to transform from a casual daytime space to an elegant nighttime private dining room for ChoLon.

We’ll report back with updates, but both concepts are estimated to open in August 2018.

Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.