On Friday, September 20 Somebody People will open its doors serving a small menu of refined plant-based cuisine. The restaurant — named after a David Bowie lyric — is a celebration of sustainability, conscious dining and a loosely-Mediterranean inspired cooking style. The bright interior is lined with art from Chelsea Lewinski, Lindsey Zimmer and Elena Gunderson, including what might be the best rendition of the Starman ever to grace a bathroom. Following the success of a series of pop-up dinners under the name Scam Likely, the proprietors Tricia and Samuel Maher teamed up with chef Simonas Sungaila to give the concept permanent roots in Denver.
The Mahers moved from Australia to New York where Samuel worked as the operations manager for Avroko Hospitality — the same group responsible for the fantastic redesign of Union Station. After realizing the big city no longer suited their interests the two spent four months traveling the country — hitting Pennsylvania, Detroit, Indiana, North Carolina and the West Coast before deciding to settle in Denver. Tricia is also a trained speech pathologist and will be opening her own clinic This Village next month. The practice will focus on helping children with autism.
Sungaila’s impressive career has been equally globe-trotting. Originally from Lithuania, the chef spent the better part of a decade in D.C. working at the Michelin-starred uber-luxury Italian restaurant Fiolia. After traveling through Thailand, Australia and parts of Europe he helped to open a Four Seasons in the Carribean, moving to Colorado after his girlfriend relocated here.
Somebody People is serious about sustainability. The tables are made from beetle-kill wood which otherwise would have been discarded and the bar stools are constructed from Piñatex, a pineapple leather. Guests are encouraged to bring their own to-go containers and reusable metal Tiffins are available as an alternative. “We’re not here to piss anyone off,” laughed Tricia regarding the militant zero-waste policy.
The 60-bottle wine program is entirely comprised of natural, biodynamic and unrefined wines with a heavy Mediterranean focus. Hung Nguyen will fly in from New York to set up the cocktail program with the Mahers promising a highly sophisticated set of drinks.
The menu currently features 12 items and one dessert. Most of the ingredients are local, with Kilt Farms and Mile High Greens delivering a variety of organic vegetables and greens. Sungalia’s Michelin chops are obvious every step of the way. Each dish is beautifully arranged and broth is poured on tableside. The radishes ($9) come with burnt seeds, vegetable ash and plentiful mint. The tomato panzanella ($12) sees thick slabs of heirloom tomatoes covered in tomato mousse and croutons. The broccoli tortellini ($16) is filled with smoky charred broccoli and comes with basil, tomato and calabrese. For dessert, there is mulled pear ($8) with catnip. Everything on the list provides a nice reminder that vegetable dishes shine brightest when they allow the ingredients to take center stage, rather than simply trying to imitate a meat counterpart.
Each week the restaurant will host Sunday Suppers. For $25 per person, guests will receive a multi-course feast highlighting whatever ingredients the kitchen are excited about. Somebody People will initially be open just for dinner with breakfast and lunch expected to follow in three weeks.
Somebody People is located at 1165 South Broadway Unit 104, Denver. It is open Tuesday – Sunday 4 – 10 p.m.
All photography by Lukas Crosby.