Fabian Valdez has a vision for one of Lone Tree's hottest spots. The owner of the Outpost Eatery wants to turn his 50-seat gastropub, sharing a building with two other owners, where Southern Comfort used to be, into the city's favorite hang-out spot.
Valdez, an award-winning bartender and former Army medic, opened Outpost in January and already has plans to keep growing if things continue the way they're going.
“There's nobody like us here, right now,” Valdez said. “I'm like no other place around here. I've niched myself so much.”
A gastropub, if you're not familiar, is "a pub, bar, or tavern that offers meals of high quality," according to Merriam-Webster.com.
To Valdez, quality is key.
His next project is opening the porch in hopes of making “dog-friendly Saturday nights.”
The Outpost Eatery is at 7431 Park Meadows Drive.
Colorado Community Media met up with Valdez to learn about his newest creations and how his craft food measures up with the best of them.
What do you want this place to be in the community?
I'm craft food and craft drinks. I'm all about experiences. Lone Tree has been missing that. I'm your neighborhood pub, but I'm also craft like crazy. My margaritas are fresh. We use lemon-lime juice fresh. We don't have Bloody Mary mix, we make our own mix, we have a michelada mix we make in house.
What does it mean to be craft?
It's fresh. We don't use mixers. It takes a little bit longer and attention to detail to make these drinks, so consistency plays a part in that. You have to be careful you're consistent too.
How do you keep that balance of quality food and a fun atmosphere?
There is a balance there. As far as environment, that has to do with the front of the house. Coming up to a table with a smile. I tell these (employees) to check their feelings at the door. You're on stage here. You're always on stage. Even (the chef) is on stage. You'll see me table-touching all the time.
Tell us about your background.
I grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that's where the New Mexico flairs come from. I moved to Las Vegas when I was 15 years old. The reason this place is called the Outpost is because I was a medic in the Army, and I wanted a name that went with that. People will see Outpost and think I must be a veteran... I went back to Las Vegas and worked with some of the best bartenders in the industry. I'm not the best, but I learned a lot from the best.
How did you get into the restaurant business?
I started off as a dishwasher, 15 years old. None of my family has a restaurant background. I moved to Las Vegas with my mom when I was young. I walked into this place and they hired me as a dishwasher. Then I moved up to become a busser, then I went into the Army, then as a barback for Hard Rock Hotel. Then I went to work for a place called Panevino. Then I moved here and opened up the Range Restaurant in downtown Denver five or six years ago. Then, me and Paul (Nagen, head chef at Narrative in Cherry Creek) began winning awards. He and I teamed up — it was just like "What's the food? OK here's a drink that goes with that. Let's go into competition together."
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