For weeks now, I’ve been wanting to revisit Mad Greens and Wine, at 12th and Acoma in the Golden Triangle over by the Denver Art Museum (whose acronym lends itself to lots of stupid jokes).

I convinced my husband to join me there, but first I had a solo “splurge hour” at Gateaux down on Speer between 11th and 12th.

I wanted to see if I could match Timothy Ferriss’s record for cupcake consumption that he mentions in The Four-Hour Workweek (12 cupcakes in one day). But I have to confess I am a wimp when it comes to sweets: I could only manage 1 double-chocolate cupcake, 1 white chocolate peach torte, and 1 frosted cookie. gateaux-pastries-denver-2009Clearly, I require more training.

One question that recurs to me as I haunt Denver is this: “How do these small shops earn enough money to pay their bills?” I was in Gateaux for a little less than an hour on a Saturday, and at least 7 other customers came through the door, one to pick up a custom-made cake. I spent $14 on 3 pastries and a cookie (keeping up with Ferriss is not cheap, plus Todd required a cherry pastry), and I think one of the customers dropped $30 on a smallish cake. So the store brought in perhaps $50 in that hour? In an eight-hour day (and Gateaux is open only 5 days a week), that would be $400, or about $8,000 a month, not counting large orders like wedding cakes.

Half of the customers were white women and half were black; some were overweight, and some were skinny. One said, “If I worked at a place like this, I’d weigh 5,000 pounds ’cause I’d always have to taste everything.”gateaux-pastry-detail-denver-2009

I guess that wouldn’t be as much of a problem at a place like Mad Wine. If you tasted everything there you’d be too drunk to keep your job. Though I wouldn’t say that Mad Wine has a large selection, I did enjoy the 2007 Muga Viura Malvasia from the Rioja region of Spain. (Wasn’t that a tongue twister? Viura, and, I guess, Malvasia, are the grapes here.) And I got the 2007 Montes Sauvignon Blanc from the Leyda Valley in Chile for half price. It was drier than the Muga, and better, I thought.

It wasn’t exactly a wine tasting, since Todd was immersed in his Cobb salad. Or I guess you could say he tasted the white wines I chose, and I finished them. Is that like being a cleaner? Or do you need French wines for that?

Our waiter/bartender/general party tender took good care of us. When this cheese plate came with Brillat-Savarin triple cream (France, on the left), Cana de Cabra (Spain), and Pecorino Ginepro (Italy), mad-wine-cheese-plate-with Marcona almonds, denver-2009and I said, “I ordered the Manchego” (from Spain), he brought me a fourth cheese without apologizing overmuch.

I liked the first two, the soft cheeses, better than the other two. The Cana had a nice bite to it, and of the hard cheeses, the Manchego lived up to its nutty description from the menu. I think they might have paired better with red wines, but I ordered whites because Todd prefers them.

The last time I was in Mad Wine, I sat alone on the wine side of the restaurant, and the place was just about empty. This Saturday afternoon, there was a party in the main section of the wine barmad-wine-interior-denver-2009 and people getting coffee and salad and whatever else was to be had. More people milled around in the sculpture-laden space between the restaurant and the art museum. There was a busy, friendly feeling in the air.

So of course we had to spoil it by going to see a movie with incubi* in it.

*It just now occurred to me that the translucent square plates in front of the incubi faces might have been inspired by their name. And when they took off the plates, their eyes glowed like headlights (on buses?).

I think I’m taking this just a little too far.

Leave A Comment

  1. saint facetious April 2, 2009 at 8:09 am - Reply

    I often wonder the same thing about how these places stay open. I guess if the owner runs it, and maybe only hires one other person if even, it’s a pretty low labor overhead. Then you just have to pay the rent (400 dollars a day would easily cover that), materials, and your own living. $8,000 a month would be reasonable to keep that going, I would think.

    saint facetious’s last blog post..Languages and more languages

  2. Beth Partin April 2, 2009 at 8:34 am - Reply

    I would think so too, but I have no idea how much labor costs are, and from the picture on the wall, they definitely have more than 1 employee. So I think the wedding cakes and such must bring in a lot of money.

    Beth Partin’s last blog post..Golden Triangle, Denver: To Splurge?

  3. BernardL April 2, 2009 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Very Nice. I often wonder the same thing about how small shops make it. We had a thriving little mall in our area, with many small specialty shops carving a niche and probably just making it. The mall owners raised their lease rates exorbitantly. They also broke promises about not renting to chains while their present tenants operated Mom & Pop places. Half the mall was empty for a decade. Overhead is the killer.

  4. Beth Partin April 2, 2009 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    We had something similar in our area, Bernard, involving a fitness center within walking distance of my house. The owner decided to try to sell but couldn’t manage it for years. As a result, a number of people lost jobs and the building sat empty until last year, when it was turned into offices.

    I wonder if the mall owners learned their lesson? Or did they manage to make more money with half the places rented? There must be some reason besides stupidity for property owners to do these things.

    Beth Partin’s last blog post..Golden Triangle, Denver: To Splurge?

  5. Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck April 2, 2009 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    Just a wee bit far but wow, what a cool restaurant. Yet another one to bookmark on my list!

    Amber’s Crazy Bloggin’ Canuck’s last blog post..Happy April Fool’s Day!

  6. Beth Partin April 2, 2009 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    It’s pretty close to downtown, so maybe you can check it out the next time you’re in Denver.

    Beth Partin’s last blog post..Golden Triangle, Denver: To Splurge?

  7. Mary April 8, 2009 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    I just came across your blog and am getting a kick out of it. It seems like we are covering some of the same ground, literally!

    Mary’s last blog post..Where was BlogDog Wednesday?

  8. Beth Partin April 9, 2009 at 8:10 am - Reply

    Mary, thanks for stopping by. I just left a comment on your blog. I wish I could sign in by another name than my Google account, though.

    Beth Partin’s last blog post..Capitol Hill, Denver: Across 6th Avenue and up Downing

  9. Mary April 9, 2009 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    Beth — Thanks for the tip. I changed that setting so that anyone can comment — no Google account required.

    I look forward to following more of your travels.

    Mary’s last blog post..What does BlogDog have in common with every 20th century president?

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