“RidgeGate Up Close” is our series of interviews with people who make RidgeGate a more vibrant place. Read the unexpected stories of residents, workers and local leaders who live and work here. Know someone who has a unique perspective or life in RidgeGate? Contact us at email@example.com.
A big thank you to the RidgeGate-based small business, Sarah Neumann Photography for conducting and photographing our RidgeGate Up Close interviews!
This month: Deanna Price, Assistant Director of Operations, Sierra Restaurant
In December of 2017, a much-anticipated and striking looking structure opened atop a bluff in the RidgeGate neighborhood. It was the brainchild of Brinkerhoff Hospitality, a family-owned entity that understood the recipe for success in the restaurant industry. Patrons poured in to Lone Tree’s newest hot spot to take in the 360 degree views and savor the bold flavors coming out of the kitchen, now directed by Chef James Junge. We sat down with Deanna Price, Assistant Director of Operations, to discuss the restaurant’s inspirations and attention to detail.
#1. The origins of Sierra Restaurant are tied closely to a well-loved Mexican restaurant in Denver called La Loma. Tell us how…
Deanna: “The Brinkerhoff family owns both Sierra Restaurant and La Loma. They’re a really tightly-knit family with ties to both the oil and gas industry as well as the hospitality industry. I suppose you could say it started with Sonny Brinkerhoff, who used to love eating at the original La Loma in Denver. Sonny and his son, William, ended up buying La Loma from the Mendozas, who were the original owners. La Loma has been wildly successful. William has a son, Mark, and he is the owner of Sierra Restaurant.”
#2. The restaurant has a very distinct look and feel, and I understand many aspects of your décor pay homage to La Loma?
Deanna: “We’ve got a true Western and rustic feel. We have two horseshoe shaped bars on full-service, one inside and one outside. We obviously have a heavy red brick influence. Many of these bricks were taken from the original La Loma location back when we deconstructed the building. Brinkerhoff also loves steel, wood floors, and high ceilings. They love hammered copper like you see on our tables, which are hand-made in Mexico. A lot of thought and detail went in to designing this building from the ground up, which is pretty substantially sized. We can seat 240 people inside and 175 outside.”
#3. Was expanding to Lone Tree from downtown Denver a risk?
Deanna: “We always knew this location was going to be really great for us. Originally, we had thought we’d build a La Loma replica on this plot, but the City felt strongly that we needed a new and original concept here because there are some other Mexican restaurants in the area. I think they knew that if anyone could do it, it would be the Brinkerhoffs. Sierra ended up being a compilation of the Brinkerhoff family recipes with influences from La Loma.”
#4. Can you describe the menu?
Deanna: “Our menu features American classics with a heavy Southwestern influence which comes from a lot of La Loma’s signature items. We elevated them little bit and plated them a little differently to make them more on brand with Sierra. Also, when you walk in the door you’ll see our rotisserie where we cook both chicken and wagyu beef.”
#5. What’s the most popular item on the menu?
Deanna: “I would say our killer shrimp is one of our most popular dishes. It features a Louisiana Creole sauce that’s got a kick to it, and oversized shrimp on a bed of coconut rice that is just to die for. La Loma is really well know for their sizzling fajitas, and we do the same thing here. We also use the same green chili and chile relleno recipes at both locations.”
#6. Your bread is also to die for!
Deanna: “We are a scratch kitchen, and all of our bread is baked in house. Burger buns, toast, tortillas…all of those things are made in-house from scratch daily.”
#7. Your patrons might be surprised to learn how much of your menu is actually locally sourced…
Deanna: “We’re really proud of the fact that roughly 70% of what Sierra serves is locally sourced. We get our dairy from Farmer’s Natural out of Longmont. All of our greens come from Larkspur. I should note that our fish is FedEx’d out of Santa Barbara daily. Our Chef, James Junge, spends a lot of time finding out where things are coming from. Our bar also features quite a few local spirits…Mel Vodka, Breckenridge spirits, Spring 44…and a lot of those are on the well, too.”