At once elegant and comfortable, fancy and familiar: ChillFire Grill, which opened its doors on May 29, 2013, is truly Denver’s treasure. ChillFire, a locally-owned and locally-patronized fine-dining establishment, is for the community; that is the vision that the owners, Jim Morasso, Larry Griffin, and John Spencer, had for this eatery. When I sat down to talk about the story behind this beautiful establishment with the general manager, Thomas Jones, I learned about the passion that the owners, the managers, and the entire staff have for the atmosphere they create, the food and beverages they serve, and, most of all, the guests who dine at every meal. The staff of ChillFire means to provide an experience and not just a meal, and they do a beautiful job of accomplishing just that.
Jones described to me a restaurant that has evolved—in only 18 months. It has evolved because the goal of the owners and the manager has always been to meet the community at the door. When ChillFire first opened its doors, they didn’t know what the Denver community was going to expect. Denver doesn’t have a restaurant like ChillFire, so the owners knew they were breaking new ground. At first, they thought it would be a Denver version of Epic Chophouse, which is partly owned by one of the owners of ChillFire. After 2-3 months, the menu was changing along with the desires of the community. They wanted, for example, more seafood and less steaks. Management was happy to oblige; after all, the Denver community was supportive in the beginning and remains supportive now. Jones proudly describes a community fully supportive of the restaurant “even after the newness wore off.”
According to Thomas Jones, the story of ChillFire is this: “It all revolves around how we view our guests. We treat them like they are coming to our home—we give them a warm welcome at the door, we talk to them at their tables because we truly care, and we are flexible and willing to cater to our guests on the spot.” It’s true; a guest can walk into the restaurant in jeans and a t-shirt, pull up a stool at the well-appointed bar, order a delicious bite to eat with a favorite beverage, and feel completely welcomed, or a party can celebrate a special occasion, dressed to the nines, and be made to feel as if they were the only patrons in the restaurant. With its spacious outdoor seating, the ever-present fireplace roaring on the inside, the elegant furnishings conceptualized and put in place completely by one of the owners, Sherri Griffin, and the knowledgeable and impeccably-trained staff, a person needs to go no further than ChillFire to find the perfect dining experience for any occasion. In addition to the dining room which boasts warm hardwood floors and picture windows across its entire front, the restaurant offers a stunning private dining room that is the perfect venue for, according to Jones, “the best things in life”: wedding rehearsals, birthdays, bridal showers, business functions, and for any reason to celebrate.
Last month, residents from SailView found a reason to celebrate in the private dining room—it was the Neighbors Night Out event, presented by N2 Publishing and hosted by ChillFire Grill. Guests were treated to a full 4-course sit-down meal, about which they all raved. Here is what a few of them had to say: “Quality compares to high-end South Charlotte restaurants. Excellent quality of food very well prepared.” (Bonnie) “Everything was wonderful. The food was more than I expected. So enjoyed meeting new neighbors and seeing some old ones. Great night!” (Letricia) In addition to the amazing food and sumptuous portions, the service was impeccable and the ambience was delightful. “Lovely atmosphere, excellent staff and delicious food from presentation to taste.” (Terri and Don) At the end of the event, Tom and Sabine summed up the feelings of all who attended: “Thanks for a wonderful evening. We will be back!”
The restaurant is proud to offer some of the best of the area’s local fare. They bring in organic and gluten-free chicken from Stanley, NC-raised pork, and produce from Black’s. The bar offers a well-known and fantastic wine selection as well as mixed drinks and a draft beer selection that includes local breweries. Even the staff are “95% from this area” because management believes that having familiar faces of servers who have embraced ChillFire’s philosophy adds to the experience for the customer, and the owners and management believe wholeheartedly that the phenomenal community support is key to retain. That ChillFire philosophy is best summed up in the words of Thomas Jones: “I love what I do, I love whom I work for and with, and I value each of our guests.” After all, Jones, the restaurant’s very first employee, said, “the guests help make our restaurant better every day.”
ChillFire Grill is open every day; the bar opens at 4:00, dinner is served from 5:00-10:00 and until 11:00 on Friday and Saturday, and brunch is served on Sundays from 10:30-2:30. The starter menu includes such treats as Angry Lobster, Cowans Ford Cheesy Bread, and Bloody Mary Oyster Saute. The main menu boasts chicken, duck, steaks, ribs, fish, burgers, pasta, salads, daily local offerings, and more. Sunday’s brunch includes a build-your-own salad station, a carving station, fried chicken, a seafood selection, an assortment of starches, biscuits and gravy, and an entire island of desserts. The food never fails to please, the prices are surprisingly reasonable, the ambience is breath-taking, and the service will ensure that no one leaves without having had an unforgettable experience.