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Lon Symensma to Open Kaya Asian Cafe and LeRoux

lon symensma

Rendering from Semple Brown

Commandeering the corner of Pearl Street with Sushi Den, Izakaya Den, and OTOTO, it is safe to say the block belongs to the Kizaki brothers, Toshi and Yasu Kizaki. Jennifer Jasinski dominates Larimer Square with rioja, Euclid Hall, and Bistro Vendôme. Soon, Chef/Restaurateur Lon Symensma will claim the historic SugarCube Building as his own, solidifying his stake on the LoDo restaurant scene, introducing Kaya Asian Cafe and LeRoux.

The space which once housed H Burger and most recently World of Beer on 16th and Blake Street has laid unclaimed for over a year. A prime real estate for any restaurateur, Lon Symensma—who’s famed flagship restaurant ChoLon Modern Asian sits in the same building—kept a steady eye on the location. With a desire to diversify his growing restaurant brand, Symensma secured the location, introducing two new concepts set to unveil summer 2018.

With the upscale ChoLon and the street-fare concept, Cho77, Kaya Kitchen slides in as a casual complement to both. An offshoot of Kaya Kitchen in Avanti, Kaya Asian Cafe will expand upon the fast-casual spot introducing Southeast Asian breakfast and lunch favorites to the downtown area. For AM revelers, guests can expect the famed Kaya Toast, plus breakfast bánh mì, Vietnamese coffee, and Thai iced teas. For a quick lunch break, hungry patrons can drop in for soups and made-to-order salads. Adjacent to ChoLon, the 24-person space will close after lunch and will act at ChoLon’s private dining room in the evening.

Branching out of Asia, LeRoux will explore pan-European cuisine, paying homage to Symensma’s early career working in Europe including France, Spain, and Italy. “I worked for restaurants vying for Michelin stars. I was getting my ass kicked in Europe. Certain things that happened wouldn’t fly nowadays,” reminisced Symensma. However, Symensma’s honors those early years growing and apprenticing in notable kitchens including San Sebastián’s famed Arzak and two Michelin-starred Moulin Mougin. “People don’t get the opportunity to work with those guys anymore. I wanted to tell the story of being trained by these chefs.”

LeRoux—which is named after Symensma’s teacher at the CIA—will do what ChoLon has done for Asian cuisine, introducing familiar European fare with creative twists that Symensma is known for. Designed by Semple Brown, the space will exude the same sexy style of ChoLon made approachable with family-style dishes.

Bringing his restaurant count up to five, Symensma shows no inkling of slowing down. In fact, Symensma plans to hold onto the nook in Avanti once Kaya Kitchen moves downtown, so we can be sure to see another new concept in the coming future. “It takes about two years of planning to open a restaurant, from conceptualizing until you serve your first dish. If you are not thinking ahead now, then your not doing anything.”

Morgan Carter, Editor