Two restaurant concepts based in Westport, Connecticut are making their way to Colorado. Bill Taibe, chef and owner, and business partner Massimo Tullio, plan to open Kawa Ni in Denver in late spring of 2023 with Don Memo to follow later that fall.
Taibe is an avid skier, and both he and Tullio have family who live in Colorado. “It just turned into a place where our families have been spending time, and ultimately, I’ve just fallen in love with the community and the culture out there. So, we figured, why not?” Taibe said. “We might as well be in a place we want to be.”
Kawa Ni, a Japanese concept, opened about nine years ago in Westport, Connecticut. Kawa Ni will be located at 1900 W. 32nd Ave. in Denver. They hope to begin the permitting process in the next month or two.
Taibe, who has been a chef for about 25 years, said Kawa Ni is a fun concept. “It’s just a fun bar. We have a vast whiskey selection,” Taibe said. “We take great pride in all our broths and our noodles, but really our focus is on people coming in, filling the table with food, drinking lots of great cocktails, some sake.” Popular menu items include the dumplings and a few signature dishes such as the broccoli salad and rangoons.
Don Memo is a Mexican cantina, which opened in Connecticut about three years ago. Taibe spent years traveling in Mexico to explore the culture and food. “We’re super proud of it. It’s sort of indicative to my travels to Oaxaca and Mexico City.”
Don Memo creates dishes with its own, scratch-made masa and tortillas. The tacos are served more like in a home setting with the meat in a serving bowl and the tortillas and toppings separate, so diners can create their own dishes. “It’s a very fun, interactive concept.” Don Memo also takes pride in its mezcal, tequila, and cocktail selections. It is being planned for 1804 S. Pearl St. in Denver.
This will be the first expansion for each concept outside of Connecticut. “For us, this is a really big deal,” Taibe told What Now Denver.
“I figured the second half of my life if I’m going to be somewhere, I might as well be somewhere that I love and really want to get involved in, so we’re just excited to get to know people in the area,” Taibe said. “We’re eager to get going. I can’t wait to see how people in Denver react to our concepts.”