Lotus Concepts has big plans, including an improved menu for my neighbor Felix

Lotus ConceptsFrançois Safieddine’s group of bars and restaurants, which built a club empire and created both ViewHouse and My neighbor Felixhas big plans for next year.

First up: the third location for My Neighbor Felix, the Mexican concept that Lotus debuted at LoHi in 2020, slated to debut at the former Landry’s at 7209 South Clinton Street at the Denver Tech Center in late December. This outpost was originally meant to be the brand’s flagship location, says Kasie Carbacio, vice president of operations. But then COVID hit and construction plans for the 10,000 square foot building were put on hold.

Instead, Felix burst onto the culinary scene at 1801 Central Street and added a location in Boulder last year. Then, five months ago, he made a big change in his management team. “I’ve always wanted to work with winners,” says Johnny Curiel, Lotus’ new culinary director. “I want to work with like-minded people. People who want to grow. People who want to level up.”

Curiel got his start in the kitchen in his father’s restaurants. “I quickly realized that I wanted to do Mexican, and do it right,” he explains. So, at eighteen, he decided to go to Mexico to learn more about “the culture, the people, the ingredients”. He traveled around the country for two years before returning to Denver and taking a job with restaurateur Richard Sandoval which allowed him to travel to Sandoval’s restaurants outside of Denver. But Curiel ultimately chose to move on, still focusing on his desire to share real Mexican cuisine.

His next gig was with restaurateur Troy Guard of TAG Restaurant Group, where he tried his hand at a variety of cuisines. “And then it took hold of me, it went to my head. I was like, ‘I have to do Mexican,'” he recalled. It was then that he joined Dave Query’s Big Red F restaurant group. “David and [chef] Jamey Fader was, for me, one of the biggest pieces of my life,” Curiel says. “People who trusted me. They were the first to say, ‘Johnny, here are the keys to this restaurant’. Go for it. What you think of Mexican food is what we want.'”

Like the LoHi location, Felix DTC will have ample deck space.

My neighbor Felix

This restaurant was Central Mexican Cuisine in Boulder, where Curiel led a rebrand. The experience taught him that being a great chef wasn’t just about the food, but about “the restaurant as a whole,” he says.

After a move to the East Coast during COVID, Curiel returned to Denver and joined Lotus, motivated in large part by the group’s strong leadership group, including Carbacio, who is a longtime Hillstone Restaurant Group veterinarian.

With “a team of tough guys” in place, Lotus is embarking on exciting new projects, says Curiel. The new Mon Voisin Félix in the DTC will not only have tons of space, including two large private dining areas and plenty of patio seating, but a Mexico City-inspired design that incorporates three commissioned works by Mexican artist Erick Garcia Gomez and 300 lights created for the project by Ático Decoración in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. “I will never forget those lights,” Curiel says. “It was immigration and getting them across the border. It was quite a project. It’s actually crazy. But they’re amazing.”

Click to enlarge

Chef Johnny Curiel joined Lotus Concepts five months ago.

My neighbor Felix

Felix DTC will also offer a slightly higher menu than the first two locations, including a steak program that should appeal to the region’s demographics. Curiel led the development of the new dishes, which include chimichurri rib eye, Mexican pepper steak, Chilean adobo-crusted sea bass, and chili relleno stuffed with homemade chorizo ​​and Oaxaca cheese on a tomato sauce. fried.

The opening of My Neighbor Felix in the DTC will soon be followed by a fourth outpost, which will arrive in the Promenade Shops of Briargate in Colorado Springs in early March 2023.

Later that month, Lotus Concepts plans to introduce a new concept, Wonderyard Garden & Table, at 2200 Larimer Street, which will focus on Mediterranean bites and cocktails. And in late 2023/early 2024, an as-yet-unnamed steakhouse will open at 1525 Blake Street, where Mexican restaurant Rio Grande was located for more than two decades before moving nearby in May. “We’re going to do everything,” Curiel says of the plans.

“We really capitalize on outdoor space,” adds Carbacio. “It’s in the middle of the city, and it’s going to look like a garden.”

Curiel also oversees menus for ViewHouse locations. “The mentality that we have with Felix started with ViewHouse,” he notes. These include a commitment to using fresh, never-frozen ingredients like Red Bird Chicken, sourcing locally whenever possible, and focusing on sustainability.

With so many great projects underway, Curiel is excited for the challenge – and he’s excited to show what Lotus Concepts can do. “We’re actually like a powerhouse,” he concludes. “I have no doubt we’ll be one of the best catering groups in the state. It’s going to take a lot. It’s taken a lot of hours, a lot of everything. And we couldn’t do it without the l team we have.”

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