January 5, 2007
We’d heard of the discontent between Richard Warner, co-owner of Steel City Diner & Bakeshop in Pueblo, and his landlords, the Koncilja brothers, so it was not surprising to hear that he and his wife/business partner, Mary Oreskovich, have closed up shop there.
Why do we care? Because the eatery was one of the best upscale places to eat in Pueblo. Well worth the drive to enjoy Warner’s season offerings. It’s not surprising they had such excellent food, since both he and his wife are grads of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. What is surprising is having these very talented chefs in Southern Colorado. When I talked to Warner, he said their lease on the space at 121 W. B St. was finished at the end of November, and he was more than happy to be done trying to deal with the landlord. “You know we have been wanting to move someplace else for more than a year,” he said, “and, finally we are out of the lease. Can you believe this, the landlord convinced some of our employees to keep the place open and continue serving my menu?” It was confirmed by the landlord’s receptionist and a former employee that they were keeping the restaurant open and changing the name to The District — a Restaurant. “I had been looking for a spot to open my own place for several months,” said Guillermo Casillas, who had been a waiter at the Steel City Diner for several years. “About six weeks before the restaurant was going to be closed, the landlords approached me, wondering if I was interested in owning this restaurant. It took me about a week after the restaurant did close to get my finances together.” It all worked for the best for him and the other employees. “Everyone was glad to be able to stay in this place and keep working,” he said. As for the menu, it’s a work in progress. “Sure, the menu reflects Richard’s artistic expression,” he said, “but we will be changing the menu every three months and will start to express my chef’s and my Hispanic heritages.” That means more-upscale Hispanic cuisine such as butternut-squash tamales and cornmeal-encrusted, deepfried avocado. They expect to have a grand opening in about three weeks. In the meantime, Warner will be looking for a new place to set up shop in the general Pueblo downtown area. He’s doing catering out of Hopscotch Bakery, 333 S. Union Ave., that he owns with his wife. He’s doing some food prep there, too. Look for the couple at the Chefs’ Gala on Feb. 25, where they will be among celebrity judges. This is a not-to-bemissed event benefiting the Colorado Springs Chorale. Twenty-four of the area’s top chefs will prepare dishes to be judged by celebrity judges and the diners. It’s held at The Broadmoor; cost is $95 per person, or buy a table for 10 and get one ticket free. Call 634-3737 for reservations. A SECOND MAMA TRINO’S Mama Trino's New York Pizzeria is opening another location in the Union Square shopping center at 5073 N. Academy Blvd. Mama Trino’s owners are hoping it will be open in about two months. Their other location, 1817 S. Nevada Ave., is still going strong. CABIN FEVER CURE It’s time to get out to celebrate if you missed out during the snow storms. Michael Seznec, general manager at Summit Restaurant at The Broadmoor, and his bar chef put together some special cocktails for the holidays that will be offered for a few more weeks. Our favorite is Cabin Fever Cider. Yes, it starts with apple juice — Organic Cider Mate. Then a splash of Beretzens Apple Brandy and the eatery’s house-made cider are stirred in. The warming drink is topped with a cloud of whipped cream and drizzle of caramel. CONTACT US: Send tips about restaurant openings, closings, menu changes and food specials to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 636-0271. Do you own or manage a restaurant? Send us your e-mail address so we can keep in touch and let diners know what you’re doing.