It’s been quite a few days for the Austin-based eatery, East Side King, here in Denver. From announcing its partnership with Avanti to said partnership falling through, the globally influenced Japanese street food concept isn’t exactly getting the welcome wagon here in the Mile High City.

However, the pushback shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, as owner and Top Chef winner Paul Qui has been trailed with controversy ever since his 2016 assault arrest. Though those assault charges have been dropped and Qui went into rehab following the assault, it seems that Denver isn’t satisfied with his attempt at redemption. Avanti swiftly cut ties with Qui soon after backlash surfaced of the announcement — stating they were aware of the assault, but not the severity.

“We apologize to our guests, our tenants, and our team for misjudging the severity of the situation surrounding Chef Qui. At Avanti we pride ourselves on offering a safe, all welcoming environment. We want our actions to speak louder than words and therefore have cut all ties with Aqui Hospitality and East Side King. Our priority is to listen to our community and continue to support Denver’s culinary scene and aspiring restaurateurs,” said Avanti in an email statement to 303.

Nevertheless, East Side King and Qui still want to make a name for themselves in Denver and are vowing to bring the concept to the city. In a statement to 303, Qui’s Aqui Hospitality Group expressed their dismay and plans to try elsewhere.

“The East Side King team is extremely disappointed in Avanti’s decision to pull out of our agreement.  Throughout the process, Chef Paul and the team have been forthcoming, collaborative and working in good faith towards a common goal.  We still believe Denver is a wonderful community that is diverse, open-minded and plan on bringing the concept to the city.  The support we have received is greatly appreciated and look forward to being here in the near future,” said Qui’s team in an email statement to 303.

It’s unknown where and if East Side King will plant its flag in Denver. But regardless of where they land, it likely won’t happen quietly.

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