Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Succotash chef Beth Barden figures it all out

Posted By on Tue, Sep 7, 2010 at 9:43 AM

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Beth Barden: bawdy brunch broad
Beth Barden ended 2009 by moving Succotash, her iconoclastic bruncheonette, from the City Market -- where she had operated in a very small space --  to a bigger, sunnier location at 2601 Holmes. For many years, that building housed the dark and smoky Dutch Hill Bar & Grill.

Barden did much of the physical labor converting the aging saloon into a bright, attractive dining room with the help of her boyfriend, Marco Pascolini, waiter Ben Cissner and her new neighbors. We talked with her about some of the challenges in creating a brand-new Succotash.

Barden is a bawdy straight-shooter who tells it like it is. Explaining how finances have kept her from being able to get her liquor license -- which means no dinner service yet -- Barden said: "As soon as I can figure out how to shit dollar bills, my life will all come together."

What have been some of the biggest challenges in moving your restaurant from Fifth Street to 26th Street?

It's been kind of challenging to let people know -- even former regular customers -- that we're still here in town and open. The look of the new Succotash is completely different, and I've discovered that people are either really happy for you for taking the risk and creating a different concept or they hate you for it. I've heard from a few customers that they were a little miffed that I had moved, because they liked that City Market location. I've even heard that I sold out. Whatever that means. But most of our customers have been nice and very supportive.

You're working all the time as it is. Do you really want to be open nights?

Yes. That's one of the reasons that I moved the business. What I didn't anticipate were the many hidden costs. It's mind-numbing! And I don't have a business partner or a backer. It's all me.

Are you happy you made the move?

Extremely happy. It's a wonderful space. We have a beautiful dining room and a real kitchen. And I love this neighborhood! The neighbors have been so welcoming. A few days before we opened, a group of neighbors came over with their toolbelts and tools and just jumped in and started helping us. They put tables and chairs together. They helped clean. I ordered pizza, and we just all worked together. That was the fun part.

The first Succotash sort of evolved organically. It took on a life and an identity of its own. Our new location was more planned out, but the decorating was so much fun. I'm a closet DIY diva anyway. I wanted a space that was new, but looked as if it had been here forever.

What are your guilty pleasures, when it comes to food?

There are so many of them! My new favorite sandwich is homemade pimento cheese -- cream cheese, pimentos and sharp cheddar blended together -- and sliced fresh jalepenos on grilled sourdough bread. And french fries -- I never met a fry I didn't like.

Do you get out to discover new restaurants?

Not always new ones, but Marco and I like making discoveries that are new to us. There's a wonderful restaurant in Kansas City, Kansas, called El Pollo Rey, at 1101 Kansas Avenue. Delicious marinated roasted chicken, chopped cabbage and tortillas. So simple and so delicious.

Have you been to Rico's Tacos Lupe yet? It's at 802 Southwest Boulevard -- an itty-bitty little place, but the tacos are out of this world.

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