Cherry Crest doubles as a sit-down restaurant and full-service seafood market.
By Peter Jones
Rumors have swirled like salmon around herring since Cherry Crest Seafood Restaurant and Market was sold a year ago – and the new co-owner, Karen Bachel, is determined to set the chitchat back to sea.
According to one account in the erroneous gossip mill, some Kansas City restaurateur has swabbed the deck of the popular Greenwood Village eatery. Another version says the once-seaworthy menu has sunk down a few leagues.
Bachel – decidedly of Littleton – separates the fish stories from the seafood.
“Yes, the restaurant did sell, but nothing has changed,” she said. “I just want people to know we’re still here. We’re still the same great restaurant.”
The specialty lobster rolls are a “lobster-salad mix with a little bit of red onion, a little bit of celery, a little bit of white pepper and lemon juice on a toasted hoagie roll. I think that’s probably our biggest item,” owner Karen Bachel said.
Although longtime owner Mike Brooks sold Cherry Crest last year, very little else has been altered. Bachel, who has worked at the restaurant for more than half of its 30 years, has strived, with co-owner/husband Larry, to sail a steady course.
After all, if the fish ain’t broke, don’t fix it – unless, of course, you grill it to perfection and serve it with a delicious ginger citrus cream sauce.
Yes, Cherry Crest still reels in its signature bevy of succulent seafood – from an Alaskan halibut broiled in Chablis to a blackened Cajun catfish to the spicy Thai shrimp with a chili-orange sauce, scallions, cucumber and cilantro, served over angel-hair pasta.
Lest we forget the restaurant’s specialty lobster rolls.
“It’s a lobster-salad mix with a little bit of red onion, a little bit of celery, a little bit of white pepper and lemon juice on a toasted hoagie roll. I think that’s probably our biggest item,” Bachel said.
After nearly two decadesworking the floor at Cherry Crest Seafood Restaurant and Market, Karen Bachel and her husband bought the business a year ago.Photos by Peter Jones
And the menu is not all that has been steered with a steady sail.
“The two gentlemen in the kitchen have been here since the 1990s. Armando, the guy who helps me out on the floor, has been here for 25 years,” Bachel said.
Overhauling Cherry Crest would not have made much sense. Since 1985, the business has operated as a proverbial fish out of water – a New England-style seafood market located in landlocked Colorado, a state where mollusk fans could otherwise settle for Rocky Mountain oysters.
Cherry Crest might even fool a Rhode Islander with its nautical themes and whiffs of fresh wild-caught fish [flown in from the East Coast three times a week]. The 1950s-era Cherry Crest Shoppette, at the intersection of University Boulevard and Orchard Road, only adds to the restaurant’s unique sensory experience.
“We’re definitely funky. It’s very unusual, and we didn’t want some other owner coming in here who didn’t really get what we are,” Bachel said. “I don’t know too many places in town where you can buy live lobsters right out of the tank. We have people from Back East who will come in here and they will pick that lobster clean.”
And yes, those lobsters – and everything else – can be taken to go,
either prepared or unprepared. About 25 percent of Cherry Crest’s business is from the market retail end of the two-tiered organization.
“I have some people I’ve never seen in the restaurant, but I see them on a weekly basis coming in to buy fish,” Bachel said.
A favorite for many market shoppers has been Cherry Crest’s lobster-clambake for two, complete with easy directions and sides of red potatoes and corn on the cob.
In addition to the regular restaurant menu, the dining room offers an early-bird special, Monday through Thursday, 4 – 6:30 p.m.
And yes, land lovers will find a few chicken and steak items on the menu.
In other words, not much has changed here – least of all the old fishermen families that reel in the week’s reliable catch.
“The people we get fresh fish from are second- and third-generation fishermen in Boston. The people we get our scallops from are out of New Bedford, Mass. They’ve been there forever,” Bachel said.
Cherry Crest Seafood Restaurant and Market
5909 S. University Blvd.
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