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Local eatery changing hands, will have new look and feel

By Joyce Davis
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — Frank Kaven is leaving ChriSar’s, but he’s not going anywhere.

“I’m bowing out (of the restaurant business), yet I’m still going to be involved as a consultant,” said Kaven, who with his wife, Anne, opened the restaurant in the elegant Victorian home at Terry Street and Sixth Avenue 15 years ago. They named the restaurant after their two children, Christopher and Sarah.

“It’s time for a change,” said Kaven, who will close the doors on ChriSar’s on May 22. ‘The place will take on a new look and a new feel when it becomes Martini’s Bistro.”

Renovations are taking place within the expansive house, which will be divided into two distinct sections. The northern part will be configured into offices, while the southern portion will become Martini’s Bistro.

Kaven, who is opening his new interior design business, will be the first of several businessmen expected to rent offices in the building. “We’ll have a nice reception area and offices that will have their own entryways and their own personality,” Kaven said.

The bistro will open June 2 under the management of three of Kaven’s current full-time employees. Manager Paul Dyer and chefs Juan Carlos Taboada and Stanley Kearney have brought new ideas to the table.

“They’ve done a phenomenal job of jumping in and coming up with fresh ideas,” Kaven said. “They’re changing the concept and the focus. ChriSar’s was always a destination restaurant where people came for special occasions. The bistro will be very different. It will be a more casual, comfortable place with affordable prices.”

Kaven says the decision to close ChriSar’s began months ago when he decided to acquire his certificate in interior design at the Arts Institute in Denver. “I was the second from the oldest in a class of eight women,” he says. “It was great to have a different mind set and create something that had nothing to do with the restaurant business.”

It took Kaven only 12 days to make the final decision about getting out of the business. “There were a lot of things that went into it, but once I decided for sure, it felt right,” he says. “There’s a lot of stress in this business, and I want to rearrange my life to relieve some of that.”

Kaven says he spoke to his staff about taking over the restaurant and shaking things up a bit. “Of course, the first thing they asked was, ‘Do we have to invest money?’ I told them just to pay me off,” he said. “It’s nice to have young people around to make you look at things in a different way. They have some great ideas and now it’s just a matter of knowing it’s theirs and they can implement those ideas.

“If they need me, they can ask me for input, as a consultant. I can help out, but I’m not going to be tied to the daily business.”

Dyer said the opportunity is a wonderful one for the three young men.

“I’m really excited about this,” he said. “The way things were going the past year, it’s apparent some changes need to be made. I think we’re going in the right direction with the bistro. I see it as a place that’s more of a lounge atmosphere without pool tables and games, where people can relax and talk and not be overwhelmed by what’s going on around them.”

Dyer says the three have looked at downsizing the menu — although some of the ChriSar’s favorites will remain — and at making some changes in prices. “We’re going to keep this in line with other places in town to stay competitive and welcome people,” he said.

Kaven said the bar will be changed and new granite table tops and a bar top will add to a fresh look. The kitchen has been updated and additional refrigeration installed to make room for more salads and sandwich items that will be on the new menu.

“And, of course, the martini theme will be most important,” he says. “We want people to have fun here. The new slogan will be ‘shake up your life, drink a martini.’ The nice thing is that martinis never go out of style and they appeal to everyone from 21 to 70. They’re the generational cocktail.”

Kaven is looking forward to beginning a new phase in his life. “Anne’s still at the hospital (she’s a nurse) and Sarah is a senior in high school and Christopher is going into the Air Force in the fall. The kids we named the place after are now 19 and 17 years old and they're moving on.

“I think it’s time for dad to move on, too.”

Joyce Davis can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 295, or by e-mail at jdavis@times-call.com.