[UPDATE: Dine Under the Stars has filed for bankruptcy. According to the company, you can file a claim for a refund with their appointed bankruptcy trustee. Visit their site for more info.]
While the adage that Denver has 300 days of sunshine a year seems to be based more on myth, alfresco dining at Mile High proves difficult during the colder, snowier spring months. Let the Canadians change that.
The Montreal-based traveling restaurant company Dine Under The Stars will take place in Denver from April 1st to April 30th, 2020and hopefully again on unspecified dates in autumn. On the Chatfield Farms grounds of the Denver Botanic Gardens in Littleton, near the restored 1918 Hildebrand Ranch milk barn, 20 garden domes are being built to offer guests an intimate 4-course alfresco meal that doesn’t depend on the weather.
Each geodesic dome can accommodate up to six people and is fully weatherproof with a heater and blankets for colder days and a portable fan for hotter days. According to Dine Under The Stars owner / partner Ryan Wibawa, the spring and fall event takes place in cities where colder climates keep people indoors. The decision to stop in Denver wasn’t a difficult one.
“It has to be a place where the winter is a bit harsh, ”said Wibawa.
The Chatfield Farms venue in particular was exciting for the Dine Under The Stars team due to the mountainous backdrop.
“The location in Denver is absolutely fantastic. It is very rare in life that you find the opportunity to sit under a dome and actually eat with the mountains in the snow or rain, ”he said.
Denver’s growing culinary scene also made the city appealing to the event company, although the liquor license regulations made it harder than usual to make plans for a stopover in Mile High City.
“It’s a little annoying because we’ve never seen it before,” said Wibawa. “It was a little more challenging, but we really wanted to get it to work because we have a specific venue. It will be worth it if we eat and look at this mountain. “
Wibawa, who previously owned nightclubs and restaurants and founded two similar event restaurants called Dinner for Four and Dinner With a View, is no stranger to creating lavish dining experiences. But he says Dine Under The Stars is a little different from his other endeavors. The concept for alfresco dome dining began when Wibawa changed his way of thinking about alfresco dining.
“In this Instagram generation, people don’t just go to restaurants to eat. People go to restaurants to go out. We wanted to use that concept – this idea that people take photos of their food and friends and have a reason to leave the house, ”said Wibawa. “Eating has become an experience with social media, and the venue has to go one step further. We have to step out of the box, and to step out of the box we actually have to step out of a restaurant. “
The domes may be a good reason to leave the house, but they are meant to make them feel right at home.
“As soon as you step into these domes, you don’t want to feel like outside anymore. You want to feel like you are in the warmth of your home. The domes have laminate floors inside just like you would in your living room. The dining table is not an outdoor dining table. It’s one that you would have in your dining room, ”said Wibawa. “You get this really homely feeling. There are blankets. You will feel like you are in a private little home with you and your favorite people. It’s hot, it’s warm, and it’s a good time. “
According to Wibawa, the goal of Dine Under The Stars is not really about star gazing, as the name suggests, but about enjoying the natural surroundings and treat yourself to delicious cuisine with friends and family.
Although the event is mostly focused on the atmosphere, Wibawa promises that quality food and drink will also be a top priority. The four-course menu includes a starter, two main courses and a dessert and takes all dietary restrictions and allergies into account.
Wibawa says that The chef and partnering catering company will be announced by January 21st. and that, unlike most traveling event companies, Dine Under The Stars is entirely dedicated to provisioning Regional cuisine.
“It’s a local chef, it’s a local [catering] Company and there will be an emphasis on local, local, organic food. We only bring local chefs. We bring a celebrated chef from every city. It’s going to be a Denver chef, ”said Wibawa.
There’s no clue yet about who the chef is or what’s on the menu, but Wibawa says Dine Under The Stars seeks talent based on professional food reviewer reviews, photography, restaurant reviews, blogs, and other online mentions. While Wibawa is unable to sample each chef’s food individually, popularity is paramount.
“Eating someone’s food in person is not a good way to tell if they’re a good cook or not [for Dine Under The Stars]. What I do know is that if the people who have been there before – if they go out of their way to rave about it and the food looks presentable – they are unlikely to disappoint, ”he said.
Cooks also need to be able to prepare dishes that accompany a variety of taste preferences in order to be catered for.
“We don’t choose chefs who are nationally or regionally oriented. This is a disqualifier for us because we are trying to include everyone. You can’t hope everyone will enjoy Italian, Mexican, or Thai food. While all of these things sound fantastic, they just aren’t going to please everyone. We take a mainstream approach. We don’t like to change the food on a national or regional level, ”said Wibawa.
For the month-long event, the selected chef has the opportunity to prepare a rotating menu.
“The food is changing. What the chef cooks the first week may not be what he or she cooks the second week. We try to stick with what is good in this city at this moment. There is no telling what the menu will look like, ”said Wibawa.
The guests just have to be surprised.
Dine Under The Stars takes place at the Chatfield Farms of the Denver Botanic Gardens at 8500 West Deer Creek Canyon Road, Littleton, CO 80128. The spring event runs April 1 through April 30, 2020 with reservations at 5, 7, and 9.Each reserved dome is $ 90 and seats up to six people at $ 76 per meal. Reserve here.
Correction: Updated the article to change the price of reserved domes from $ 45 to $ 90. Domes can be reserved for $ 45 using an online promotional code. This price does not include taxes or fees.