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Josh WolkonI love dining “experiences.” Whether at home, on a beach, on a farm, on a hike or in a restaurant the combination of food, drink, atmosphere, people, play, laughter, hospitality, conversation and music can combine to create these memorable experiences. I love old buildings. They have a built in character and story that lend themselves to creating something unique and special. Morphing old buildings into restaurants and bars filled with life is an incredibly challenging and rewarding experience. It is a gift to have the resources and creative minds and energy to bring such dreams and visions to reality. With each buildout comes an incredible opportunity to team up with like minded architects, interior designers, graphic designers, chefs, mixologists and local artisans to bring the visions of a menu, a space and a vibe all together. With each new concept has come an opportunity to travel and be inspired by an industry that continues to reach new levels of creativity, design, and originality.
Vesta Dipping Grill, our first restaurant opened in 1997 in Lower Downtown, Denver. I was 25 and driven by blind ambition to open my dream restaurant. Surrounded by young, energetic, passionate, and fun people we created a destination restaurant before Lodo itself became a destination. The term “Vesta Vibe” was coined and the foundation of positive energy, genuine hospitality, philanthropy and fun has paved the way for our company’s success since 1997. Vesta has consistently been recognized as one of Denver’s Best restaurants and remains a staple for pre-parties, engagements, first dates and celebrations.. . Dim-Sum, Sushi, Korean, Ethiopian and many other ethnic cuisines encourage social and interactive dining combined with condiments and sauces. I love sauces. I love dipping. Bold flavors excite my palette. These flavors and a commitment to providing a social and memorable dining experience are the foundation of Vesta Dipping Grill.The people, personalities and staff that execute the concept of Vesta have been the key to our success. They personify the “Vesta Vibe” which allows us to express excellence in the most inclusive, accessible, genuine and hospitable way possible .
After the first ten years our veteran management team was ready for a new challenge. In 2007 we opened Steuben’s, named after a historic Boston restaurant that my Great Uncle’s owned in the 1940-s thru the 1960’s. We saw a need in Denver for that everyday, neighborhood diner serving all of our favorite Regional American things to eat: A lobster roll from New England, a Green Chili Cheeseburger from Alberquerque, Fried Chicken and Ribs from the South. The old Dan’s Garage was transformed to create a 60’s modern diner blended with classic café. The prices are right. The cocktails are classic and the food is quality and done right. The Steuben’s Food Truck launched in 2009 helping to bring the food truck phenomenon to Denver and giving the company another great resource for doing outside events and charitable parties.
In 2012, our third concept, Ace, was born in an incredible old and relatively large building, just across the alley from Steuben’s. With space to spare the idea of incorporating ping pong into the concept was born. Our 11 ping pong tables make Ace an original dining and recreational drinking establishment. The design effort focused on keeping the industrial feel of the old Storz Garage while reusing as much of the original building elements and reclaimed and recycled materials as possible. You’ll see everything from window grating from the old windows, to shipping containers, to salvaged airplane parts, reclaimed barn wood, a wall made from old palette wood, to old apple crates, and countless other creative uses of repurposed materials. It’s these architectural design elements that give Ace its artistic, hand crafted and unique vibe. The outdoor patio with two custom concrete ping pong tables, outdoor bar seating, and picnic tables made of old house decking adds a fourth playground to the many options at Ace. This entire space is pulsing with action and style. Chef Biederman’s play on Asian cuisine is similar to he did at Steuben’s with American Food. Ace’s menu gives diners a taste of the best street food, comfort food, bar food, noodles, soups and snacks of Southeast Asia. It can be spicy and adventurous at times, but still accessible and affordable, perfectly complimenting the energetic and party vibe of Ace.I am blessed to have an incredible team of passionate people who understand this industry and love it. My wife Jen has been with me since Vesta opens and continues to be an integral part of the design and daily decision making process while doing an incredible job with our two young boys. Vesta, Steuben’s and Ace are one big family with more than 250 members. We work and play together in an environment that encourages fun, parties, creativity, eating, drinking, playing, dancing, and connecting with people. On the surface, the restaurant worlds of Vesta, Steuben’s, and Ace are entirely different, but a common thread of incredible staff, delicious food and a good time make these restaurants sisters. We are incredibly lucky and fortunate to do what we do for a living as we get to see the rewards on the faces of our staff and guests on a daily basis.