Sunny days ahead

Mountain Sun intends to open new restaurant by early 2013

Sun executive chef Annabelle Forrestal
Photo by Steve Weishampel

In winter’s darkest hour, a new Sun will rise.

OK, that’s a little dramatic. But it’s the truth, as Boulder’s Mountain Sun brewpub empire moves to add a fourth restaurant to its lineup, which now includes Mountain Sun, Southern Sun and Denver’s Vine Street Pub.

The new restaurant is located in the space directly beneath the Southern Sun at Broadway and Table Mesa, formerly occupied by Giovanni’s. A lot of the decisions on the new eatery are up in the air, but the super-clever name is already locked in: “Under the Sun.”

That’s about the only thing set in stone, says Timothy McMurray, co-owner of the Mountain Sun restaurant group.

“We haven’t decided on the opening. We don’t really know when it’s going to be,” he says. “We still need to do a lot of hiring, stuff like that … We’re still testing menu stuff out.”

McMurray did announce one departure from the Sun formula for Under the Sun: Other brews are invited to the party.

“We’re going to have 21 Mountain Sun beers, 10 guest beers and then we’re going to do eight wines in draft,” he says. “It’ll be just a little more selection of draft beer and wine.”

The current Suns feature a guest beer or two — Vine Street Manager Caroline Duffy says one tap is dedicated to guest beers — but 10 at a time is a high mark for the franchise. Particular beers haven’t been chosen yet, McMurray says, but he says he knows there are “a lot of good breweries around here.”

“It’ll just be good beer,” he says. “So if it’s good, there’s a good chance it’ll be on here.” Past guest taps at Vine Street have included Colorado favorites like Avery, Oskar Blues and New Belgium as well as Oregon’s Deschutes.

While renovation on the restaurant nears completion, rumors are flying, says another of the Sun owners, Will Doerrmann. He’s heard lots of unfounded claims about the restaurant.

That could include the assertions one of the Southern Sun’s servers made to Boulder Weekly staff before we talked to Doerrmann. Under the Sun is opening in early January, she said, maybe Jan. 5. The menu’s going to top out at $15, not $10 like the other Suns. She even offered to get us a menu to see.

But she never returned with one, and the other information isn’t true, Doerrmann and McMurray say. McMurray emphasized to Boulder Weekly that the menu is still being tested by the Sun owners and executive chef.

“We’re still in a lot of developmental stages. We’re still developing a lot of entrees and food,” he says. “It’ll be really fresh, healthy, clean food.”

That means prices are still unknown as well.

The interior of Under the Sun | Photo by Steve Weishampel

Construction inside the restaurant is now finished, and executive chef Annabelle Forrestal says the restaurant is nearly ready to open. Doerrmann says the feel of the room will be similar to the other Sun locations. Gone will be the distinct rooms that defined Giovanni’s, including an arcade room and separate dining room. He says Under the Sun will have “wood floors and more tile accents” and that the single room will feel big and open.

The restaurant’s location, Suite A of 627 S. Broadway, has seen several tenants over the past few years. Before Giovanni’s, the space was occupied by Ajuua!!, the Mexican franchise with locations in Denver, Aurora, Johnstown and Niwot.

When asked what might have gone wrong with Giovanni’s, which opened in February 2011 and closed about a year later, McMurray said he wasn’t sure.

“I don’t know about Giovanni’s. I know we’re not going to be an Italian restaurant,” McMurray says. “I don’t know why it’s gone through a couple different places. Everyone just kind of runs their business differently, I guess.”

A decision also hasn’t been made on whether Under the Sun will offer live music. Each of the Sun locations currently hosts one band per week, with styles ranging from dub/electro to jazz to bluegrass.

So when can Boulder expect to see some more Sun?

“It’ll be after the first of the year. That’s kind of all we have right now,” McMurray says at first. Later, he gets just a little more specific: “We’re thinking February, could be March. I don’t know when.”

Co-owner Doerrmann says no date is set in stone, but he says the opening could be in “mid- or late January.”

One thing seems certain, it will definitely be in 2013.