We had another great turnout for our second LoHi merchant meeting last month at Linger. I was amazed again at the diversity of businesses represented and the number of new faces interested in joining our fledgling association. Special thanks to Linger Owner and Chef Justin Cucci, for allowing the merchants to sample the restaurant’s innovative menu and tour the unique space on a night when Linger is normally closed. The view from Linger’s patio is one of the best in Denver and well-worth checking out.

As a longtime Highland business owner, I’m excited about so many merchants joining forces to more effectively market everything our neighborhood has to offer. One idea that we’re still working on is the creation of a welcome basket for new residents. The “basket” would contain a variety of gift certificates and merchandise from local vendors to help introduce new residents to the neighborhood and educate them about the services and products available. I am looking for help to coordinate this project, so if you’re interested, please let me know.

We also discussed the idea of launching a LoHi shuttle that would run from downtown to Highland, stopping at the major business districts in the area. The shuttle could help attract tourists from downtown hotels and would drive business without adding more congestion to the neighborhood. I’ll keep everyone posted as we work on making this concept a reality.

Lastly, I’m excited to announce that we’ve secured a URL for the merchant group and hope to develop a website soon to promote our activities. I’m also sending out updates on events and discounts through the new “Merchant Messenger,” so if you have something you’d like me to include, please let me know. The best way to reach me is via email – lu@staskoagency.com

Our next meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on September 26th at Spuntino, 2639 W. 32nd Ave. I hope to see you there!

Congratulations to Cellar Wine Bar, which just celebrated its first anniversary. To mark the occasion, we helped the LoHi lounge throw a festive summer party that also served as a fundraiser for the Urban Green Development Sustainable Scholarship Foundation. The foundation is raising money to fund one full-ride scholarship for a North High School student interested in pursuing a career in green and renewable industries.

Cellar Wine Bar owners Brian Delgado and Sandra Lopez donated $1 from every glass of wine sold during the party to the foundation. The cause is especially close the couple’s heart, since they met and fell in love as students at North High. The pair, who married in August 2005, chose to open their business in Highland because of their connection to the neighborhood. As successful entrepreneurs, they serve as role models for current North High students. The anniversary celebration provided the opportunity for Brian and Sandra (pictured below left) to thank the community for its support, while providing a hand up for future generations.

The event drew a big crowd and guests included new North High principal Nicole Veltze, Shapes Salon Owner Richelle Bishop-Gonzales, Denver Public Schools board member Arturo Jimenez, Wine Spectator writer Jayne Russell and Metromix/9News reporter Heidi McGuire.

Thanks to all who joined us for the festivities. If you haven’t already, please check out Cellar Wine Bar, located at the corner of 15th and Umatilla. The bar offers 35 different types of wines by the glass as well as sake, beer, cocktails and Spanish-influenced appetizers, including beef and potato empanadas. A patio is the works, which should provide the perfect spot to while away the remaining summer days.

Highland’s Gallop Cafe went 2 for 2 this week, with two different segments on Channel 2 “The Deuce.”

Last Friday, anchor Chris Parente stopped by Gallop for a special tasting of the dinner menu (served Thursday-Saturday). Armed with a flip camera (and a friend to share all the food), Chris filmed the whole experience and then aired the footage on Monday’s Everyday segment. Here’s Chris hamming it up with Owner Glen Baker:

Following rave reviews on Monday morning’s segment, Gallop Cafe headed to the Channel 2 studio to prepare the Soul of Autumn Benedict live on Daybreak. Owner/Chef Dave Grafke and assistant chef Christina Mintu set up a beautiful presentation and got all the ingredients ready.

Click here to check out the pictures we took during set up at the studio.

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We couldn’t have been happier to see Gallop get the kudos they deserve. Watch the segment featuring David Grafke and Tom Green here:

Want a taste of this delicious fall dish? You can try the recipe yourself or simply stop the by Gallop Cafe, located at 32nd & Zuni.

As a Highland mainstay, The Stasko Agency is always happy to see our burgeoning neighborhood gain some positive publicity. So, we were thrilled when the New York Times recognized three Highland hot spots for serving dishes made from locally-raised livestock and homegrown produce.

The article, which hit newsstands last month, highlighted Root Down, The Squeaky Bean, Colt & Gray and the central Denver bistro Fruition.

We’ve been touting Root Down’s “field to fork” philosophy since the restaurant opened in December 2008. The eatery’s environmentally-friendly approach landed Root Down a spot on the Green Restaurant Tour last April and was the focus of a Vista TV feature. You can check out the segment here.

Congrats to Root Down and all the great restaurants who received props for growing their own food. We’re lucky to have such a wide array of fresh food available so close to home!

For all our Highland dwellers out there (and anyone interested in health and relaxation), an exciting new business is opening up in the neighborhood. An exceptional group of local health practitioners have come together to create the Highlands Wellness Center.

The newly renovated center, located off 32nd and Zuni, will celebrate their Grand Opening tomorrow, February 11th from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. Drop by 2416 W 32nd Ave to enjoy live music, appetizers, wine and custom blended teas. You will have the opportunity to sample many of the services and enter a drawing for full treatments. The first 100 guests will receive a free goodie bag!

The Highlands Wellness Center will promote wellbeing and therapy for the mind and body. Services include acupuncture, Rolfing©, psychotherapy, yoga, energy healing and massage therapy. The Grand Opening is hosted by Symmetry Therapeutic Massage Spa, Allison Benner, Certified Rolfer, Danielle Vance, MA. LPC, and all of the practitioners at the Highland Wellness Center.

Duo, Pasquinis Pizzeria, Gallop Cafe and Taqueria Patzcuaro will provide their own specialty food and treats for guests to enjoy.

If you’re interested in attending, simply send an informal RSVP to Celeste O’Brien at celeste@symmetrymassagedenver.com to show your support and let her know you’re coming.

We’ve already gotten a sneak peek of what Symmetry Therapeutic Massage Spa has to offer and now there’s no turning back. We’re hooked!

Highland celebrated its Second Annual Old Fashioned 4th of July Parade this past weekend, and it was a sight to be seen! Over 850 neighbors showed up for the event, donned in red, white and blue and sporting fully decorated bikes, trikes, and wagons.

As part of the festivities, participants entered a pie-baking contest to see if their recipe could hold up against the rest. The grand prize for the competition was a 1 Month Showcase of the winning recipe at Highland’s own Root Down. Christina Cowan, pastry chef at Root Down, was kind enough to be the guest judge for the event and certainly had her work cut out for her. We saw a lot of amazing pies, but 3 really captured Christina’s taste buds. Here are the results:

1st place: Julie Cezadlos (far left) with a Raspberry Peach Crostata
2nd place: Olivia Freidman (middle) with a Triple Berry Pie
3rd Place: Ericka Cunha (far right) with a Hand-picked Hukleberry Pie

Christina will be creating Julie’s recipe at the restaurant for the month of July, so be sure to drop by and check it out.

The afternoon had a very sweet ending, with the unveiling of a 50 foot Ice Cream Sundae courtesy of Little Man Ice Cream. Of course, all the kids gathered around, spoon in hand, and wasted no time in gobbling down the massive dessert. With great food, games, and music by Rabbit Stew, the parade was quite a hit. It’s always refreshing to see the neighborhood come together and prove that Highland is a fantastic community to be a part of.

A special shout out goes to Yael Nyholm, Erin Weber-Hansen, Kristen Maldeis, Paul Tamburello, and our wonderful community sponsors for their support and participation.

Since opening last December, Root Down has been a huge success, packing out the place daily and constantly staying in the press. We’re happy to land new stories about this fun and funky restaurant and are always looking for new angles and attributes to point out. We were extremely pleased with a recent article by Dining Out which gave readers a taste of the crazy journey of Root Down, from construction to completion (“Flaming Hoops and Nouveau Nostalgia–Root Down blossoms against all odds”). We remember looking at the spot last summer and straining our eyes to imagine what it would eventually become. But over time (and with much hard work and inspiration), the old 1950s station took on Justin’s unique vision and transformed into one of Denver’s restaurant hotspots.

With the onset of incredible restaurants and venues such as Root Down, Highland itself has transformed into the place to be. Men’s Journal recently named East Highland as one of “The Best Neighborhoods in America.” (Of course we agree, but then again, we’re pretty biased!) Root Down was dubbed “the city’s most interesting new restaurant” in the article, and was listed among some of our other favorites–Little Man Ice Cream, Lola, Vita–which help make this area so desirable.

We love seeing (and landing) great press for great places. Keep coming back to the blog to hear more stories about our amazing clients and all they are doing.

And if you haven’t visited Highland or stopped by Root Down, let us know! We want you to be part of this ongoing story and see for yourself what all the hype is about.

We’re always thrilled to see the places we love receive the accolades they deserve! Westword just released their picks for Best of Denver 2009, recognizing some of Denver’s top people, places, and things.

Among the many winners, two made us particularly proud:

Best Restaurant Neighborhood– Berkeley/Highland.

“This year’s hot restaurant neighborhood news is a northwest-side story. In 2008, three new restaurants sprang up at the corner of 44th Avenue and Lowell Boulevard long held down by Cafe Brazil: Billy’s Inn, Tocabe and Shazz. From there, it’s a quick trip to Tennyson Street, where you can have breakfast at DJ’s Berkeley Cafe, lunch at Brasserie Felix, then drinks at the Berkeley Inn, the recovered dive bar where you can still have a couple of cigarettes with your beer and shot. Then it’s down to 32nd Avenue for happy hour at Venue, dinner at Duo, a quick after-dinner glass of wine at Z Cuisine À Côté, and a final nightcap at another newcomer, Root Down. In between, there’s Big Hoss Bar-B-Q (fried cheese and whiskey floats), Bang, Taquería Patzcuaro (chicharrones), Masterpiece Deli and about a hundred other spots that range from a few of Denver’s worst to some of its very, very best.” –Westword Best of 2009

Best Contemporary Cocktail–Root Down

“Root Down’s bar may be located in an old service station, but Justin Cucci’s new restaurant is completely contemporary, from its “field-to-fork” mentality reflected in a menu full of locally sourced ingredients to its streamlined dining room (with amazing views of downtown). But we keep returning to the bar, where Root Down’s adventurous spirit is reflected in original cocktails featuring those same fresh ingredients, from the Thyme Gin Rickey (fresh muddled thyme, lemon and lime juices and gin) to the Pepper Blossom (St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Prairie organic vodka, muddled fresh basil, lemon, jalapeño and agave nectar). Happy hour runs from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, but this bar is hopping at all hours. And if you don’t spot something you like on the specialty cocktail list, the resident mixologists are always happy to create something for you. We can’t wait to see what they come up with after the first harvest of Root Down’s two gardens.” –Westword Best of 2009

Exciting to know we live & work in the heart of Denver’s new restaurant hot spot! Congratulations to the winners, who make the Mile High City such a great place to be.