Those who fell off their chairs when they found out Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail was closing in the spring of 2015 are upright again, now on the edge of their seats, waiting for the longtime local chef and restaurateur to serve them another course.
Liken’s new establishment, Harvest by Kelly Liken, is located in the freshly redone Sonnenalp Club in Edwards. Harvest opened to the public on Tuesday and is celebrating with a grand opening party on Friday.
“It’s so exciting for me because I never really considered selling my Vail restaurant, but the opportunity presented itself,” Liken said. “We realized last summer that we had this incredible opportunity that very few people ever get — just to press the pause button and take a deep breath and say, ‘What do we want the next adventure in our lives to look like and feel like?’ And we could craft it from scratch.”
And craft it they did. Johannes Faessler, owner of the Sonnenalp Club, approached Liken around the time she buttoned up shop in Vail, and Liken and her husband, Rick Colomitz, spent the summer brainstorming with Faessler, forging a partnership agreement in the fall of 2015 and then moving forward with the design and remodel.
Now complete, her new restaurant came together in all the ways Liken had envisioned. It’s spacious and welcoming, as the dining room, central horseshoe bar, high-top community tables, long outdoor terrace and elevated open kitchen flow together seamlessly. Large windows surround the elegant, farmhouse-inspired space, with 180-degree views that look out toward the valley and Colorado skies.
“We wanted to create a neighborhood gathering place that feels good and relaxed,” Liken said. “And people can do exactly that here — they can gather and have fun.”
TEAM KELLY LIKEN
Liken has put together a strong team of professionals to run Harvest, and a lot of them have worked with her for years, including Harvest executive chef Jarrod Morrah and sous chef John Mowery.
“We have four of us from Restaurant Kelly Liken, so it’s really fun, it gels,” Liken said of her kitchen team. “We have all worked together for a long time, and we all really enjoy it.”
Mowery said Liken’s guidance and direction have set a tone of teamwork for the staff and a high level of quality for the establishment.
“Everyone who is a part of this team wants it to be successful,” he said. “It’s really exciting to be a part of that and to be in such a supportive and creative environment.”
Sarah John has also worked with Liken for many years and is now the events and programming manager at the Sonnenalp Club.
“We are all so used to working with each other already, and here we are expanding on that family we have been building for years,” John said.
New to the Kelly Liken family is Sven Essler, Harvest general manager, previously of the Sonnenalp Club’s previous restaurant, Balata.
SEASONALLY INSPIRED EATS
Harvest’s food reflects Liken’s roots in preparing seasonal American cuisine, now with an emphasis on small and shared plates — family-style, from start to finish.
“We really want to create this vibe of sharing and community,” Liken said. “Certainly the price point is a lot different than the Vail restaurant, and the Vail restaurant fit its neighborhood. It was right in the middle of the best ski resort in America, and the price point, the aesthetic, the design and the menu spoke to the neighborhood. And now I hope this menu and design speaks to this neighborhood, this community and what they want.”
Harvest’s breakfast nook, called The Pantry, serves coffee, tea, fresh smoothies and juices, pastries and made-to-order toasts. Creative sandwiches, soups and salads make up the lunch menu, and dinner features snacks such as ranch popcorn, paprika kettle chips, deviled eggs and cheese and charcuterie, small plates such as roasted cauliflower with crisp pancetta and capers — priced $8 to $18 — and large plates, such as the roast pork shoulder with smoked pork broth and creamy artisan grits, from $14 to $36.
“My sensibility has always been, and will always be, this idea of seasonality, with organic, local food and really honoring that product, ” Liken said.
Colomitz has designed the Harvest beverage program, which honors quality and craft as much as all the dishes coming out of Liken’s kitchen.
The very focused wine list will maintain about 40 bottles, featuring small, family-run wineries from around the world. The list will have 10 to 12 by-the-glass options, ranging from about $6 to $15.
All 12 tap handles behind the bar are Colorado microbrews, and Colomitz has put together a diverse list of beer, from approachable pilsners and interesting sours to dynamic, high-alcohol brews.
Bar manager Sara Allor-Fahmie is creating cocktails with local spirits, whenever possible. Try her refreshing Cool as a Cucumber cocktail this summer, made with Cap Rock gin, elderflower liqueur, fresh-pressed cucumber juice and a touch of lemon.
“We have found that between beer and spirits in the state of Colorado, we do it really well,” Liken said. “Very often, it’s a higher quality product than most others.”
For a coffee pick-me-up, Allor-Fahmie makes Timmy’s Flaming Coffee using fire to caramelize the cinnamon and sugar rim of the mug. The cocktail list is fun and inviting, like Harvest itself.
“Even though it’s casual and less expensive, the hospitality remains,” Liken said. “It takes some time, but we are really building that culture of hospitality and will always work to maintain a high level of quality and service.”