The best opportunities don’t always come at the best times. For Hearth & Dram’s opening chef Jeffrey Wall, meeting an investor looking to open Wall’s dream restaurant was, in fact, terrible timing. Wall had moved from Atlanta to Denver less than a year earlier, and had no intentions of leaving the Mile High City or his team at Hearth & Dram. “I moved to Denver for that job,” Wall says. “It was really tough to leave behind such a dedicated team.”

But leave he did, as can only be expected when a chef is presented with the chance to design, operate, and co-own a market-driven fine dining restaurant in Santa Cruz, California. “We’ll miss Jeff, but couldn’t be happier for him to have been offered his dream opportunity,” says Garron Gore, Hearth & Dram’s concept creator. Gore is also excited to welcome a new executive chef: Adam Vero, formerly of Guard and Grace and Mister Tuna, as well as the beloved, now-shuttered Z Cuisine.

Vero wasn’t looking to switch restaurants either, but when he heard of the position, it immediately felt like the right move. “Hearth & Dram has the style of food that I like,” Vero says, “and it’s the kind of restaurant I want to work in, with the wood-fire grill and an awesome charcuterie program.”

Starting on April 2, Vero will take a couple of months to settle in and learn the status quo before streamlining the menus—Hearth & Dram, located in the Hotel Indigo behind Union Station, offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, catering, and room service—and updating the offerings for summer and beyond. “I’m excited to walk across the street to the Union Station farmers’ market, grab what’s fresh, and come back to make some cool food.”

Vero, a drinker of brown spirits, is also comfortable with the Hearth & Dram’s whiskey-forward bar program. He intends to collaborate with local beverage industry talent to create a program of pairing dinners that highlight the restaurant’s collection of 350-plus whiskeys. We’ll keep you posted on these events and more as Vero makes Hearth & Dram his own.

Hearth & Dram, Hotel Indigo, 1801 Wewatta St., 303-623-0979

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.