Celebrating the Big Red F Restaurant Groups 25-year Anniversary
“People are awesome. Reach out and meet them.”
Dave Query, founder or “Chief Pot Stirrer” of the Big Red F Restaurant Group, wholeheartedly exclaims during our insightful recap of the past 25 years of the Big Red F Restaurant Group and then some. To celebrate the Big Red F is to recognize their community, innovative mindset, inviting hospitality, and the outstanding food that many of Boulder’s beloved restaurants have exemplified over the years.
Consisting of Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, West End Tavern, The Post Brewing Co., Zolo Southwestern Grill, Centro Mexican Kitchen, and Lola Coastal Mexican, they continuously strive to deliver outstanding experiences as a baseline expectation.
Consistency has always been the goal, it’s never been about recreating the wheel, but instead about emphasizing creativity, bringing innovation to simplicity, and serving up delicious, fresh food with people who believe in the greater mission of this community.
“Colorado has attracted a really high caliber of smart restaurant people. I’ve been in the restaurant industry for 30 some years and it’s never been better – the scene, the food, the customer knowledge, the employee knowledge. It’s amazing. From that, you’ve got to continue to up your game.”
So how has the Big Red F continued to up their game over the years?
Inspiring Communication, Connection, and Community
While the food, drink, and people take center stage, communication and connection are the driving forces of these environments. Outstanding restaurants understand this synergistic relationship. To know this dynamic is one thing, to effectively implement this is an ever-evolving process that requires a deep level of humility paired with contagious enthusiasm and a mission that people can get behind and believe in.
When you’re in the business of inspiring 800 employees twice a day, cultivating high morale is vitally important. Every day gifts the chance to be amazing and make a difference, to brighten someone’s day or create a lifelong connection.
Query constantly stresses the importance of their employees and the relationships they’ve nurtured over the years, “You don’t know who you don’t know. You never know who you’re talking to. Lifelong friendships that have started over ‘what can I get you to drink tonight?’”
A Willingness to Learn, Innovate, and Execute
After noticing the high sales of beer in their various restaurants, it was a no brainer that it was time to make their own beer.
Cue The Post Brewery Co.
“It’s always been trying to do something that isn’t necessarily very available or isn’t overplayed.”
Query had wanted to do a fried chicken spot for so long due to the void he felt. Tacos, pizza, and burger pairings felt overplayed, so it was the chicken’s time to shine and fry.
This quality of innovative adaptability is also what ended Cafe Rhumba, Boulder’s once wildly popular Jamaican-themed bar that had a heavy drinking culture. On February 6th, 2006 after a ridiculously good run, they closed it down for four weeks to open back up as Centro Mexican Kitchen. With a massive makeover, it was unrecognizable and in greater alignment with the bigger picture for the Big Red F.
Exploring Uncharted Territory with Humility
“If anything I’ve been really good at managing good luck.”
Right place, right time.
Call it destiny or pure chance, many of the Big Red F restaurants got their start after seemingly happenstance conversations and connections that Query was fortunate enough to create and cultivate. The location of Jax Fish House & Oyster bar in downtown Denver is a perfect representation of this.
When the Colorado Avalanche was in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1996, Query was at a little bar named The Terminal Bar, where famous author Jack Kerouac once lived above. After striking up a conversation with the Australian woman behind the bar, an unexpected sequence of events lead to Query offering to buy the place.
Turns out, she was the owner and she was having a tough day, when both her cook and bartender didn’t show up for work.
“It all comes back to humility. Had I rolled in there with a big ego and a big attitude and started talking to this old Australian lady who was having a tough day, telling her how she should do it and telling her what’s what…”
One can easily imagine how that might have played out.
Thankfully, these key ingredients have guided the Big Red F Restaurant Group throughout the years.
Keep an eye out for upcoming openings across the Front Range as this legacy continues to unfold.