Duo Talks Farm-to-Table Cuisine and Surviving the Pandemic

Nestled in the heart of one of Denver’s Highland neighborhood is a restaurant that offers unique farm to table cuisine with fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Duo Restaurant is a perfect reflection of owners Keith Arnold and Stephanie Bonin’s values in supporting the community and giving back.

As it becomes more common for restaurants to source most of their ingredients from local farmers, duo evokes a unique experience unlike many others. If an ingredient cannot be grown or sourced locally, they try to get as close to locally sourced as possible. This initial step is so important that they consider farmers and others they work with partners.

“Our food is only as good as the raw ingredients and so where we source our ingredients is essential to who we are as a restaurant,” said Bonin. “They are the people who are growing the vegetables, who are raising the livestock, who are the makers creating the cheese and distillers who make the liquor. In [ensuring] that we start with the best ingredients, we really work on creating those relationships with the farmers and the producers so that it is seen as a partnership.”

The menu itself consists of various wine and drink, brunch, dinner and dessert options. Delicious red and white wines can be offered by the glass or the bottle. They also offer cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. Looking more at the food, items such as the Denver Classic ($15) with pork loin, sunny-side eggs, crispy potatoes and sausage gravy can be chosen for a brunch option and buttermilk fried chicken ($25) with sour cream mashed potatoes, black eyed pea bacon squash stew and apple cider chili gastrique as one of the dinner entree choices.

“That is how we eat as a family and how I grew up eating and it is very much an extension of our values,” said Bonin. “Great cooking starts with raw ingredients and it is our values and beliefs to support the community around us and make sure that our farmers and local producers are part of our food system. We are all supporting each other.”

Being able to dine at a restaurant that gives back to its community is such an important aspect, especially in trying times such as these. Though this year has been difficult and they have had to put a hold on some of their philanthropy projects, they are looking forward to being able to give back to their community once again when the business can go back to more of a normal routine.

“We have always focused our giving on neighborhood, environmental and women’s issues and the pandemic definitely brought that to a halt right now,” said Bonin.

Despite the fact that duo is not the first restaurant Arnold and Bonin have owned together, it brings a different experience for them for many reasons, even the name holds a special meaning.

“At the time it was my husband and I’s first endeavor as a married couple so it is really a play on the number two,” said Bonin. “And it was our second restaurant and also that we knew a lot of people loved going out to eat as a couple so it was very much that playfulness with the number two.”

Just like many others, this year has brought a maze of challenges that Bonin and Arnold have had to navigate through to keep the business going. They’ve started selling packaged food items served at the restaurant and set up more outdoor seating options.

“”We have had to change our business model to a model that is not sustainable which has been relying almost entirely on curbside at different points in the pandemic …” said Bonin. “Right now we have set up individual greenhouses, but instead of being able to seat 78 people, we can only seat eight people … We have absolutely tried to flex our muscles in terms of innovation and pivoting to trying different things like we have a holiday market … where people can buy t-shirts and our well-known marinated olives that we serve everyone when they come in to dine so they can now buy in containers.”

As the new year begins, it is hard to make plans as the impact of 2020 is still hurting business, but owners such as Bonin and Arnold are doing everything they can to stay afloat and get to a point where they can continue to help the community again. The best way to help businesses such as duo is to order food directly from the restaurant and shop locally.

Duo Restaurant is located at 2413 West 32nd Avenue Denver, Colorado and is open for dinner from 4 – 8 p.m. weekdays, 4 – 9 p.m. weekends and is closed on Tuesdays. They are currently taking outdoor dining and orders for take out. Please call the restaurant at 303-477-4141 for more information on hours of operation.

All photography courtesy of duo Restaurant.