These Denver restaurateur couples find a way to keep the flame, and business, alive

For many people, working with their spouse would be a recipe for disaster, never mind a pair being at the forefront of Denver’s bustling restaurant scene. In an industry that’s notoriously tough on relationships, these couples have found a way to keep the flame alive. The Denver Post asked these restaurant industry couples for their recipes for success.

Josh and Jen Wolkon (Vesta, Steuben’s, Ace)

How did you first meet?

We met in Boulder in 1996 on a Fat Tuesday show at The Fox Theater (research shows it was String Cheese Incident). We were introduced by a mutual friend from the University of Vermont, where we had both gone to college, though never met. About two weeks into opening Vesta, we were sneaking around attempting to hide our newfound love. After about six months, we finally stopped the charade, which was not fooling anyone. We were having a blast, spending almost all our time together and building Vesta. Eventually we shared an office upstairs from Vesta and that experience was a true test of how we would succeed long-term as a couple.

What has been a challenge you’ve faced as a couple in the restaurant industry?

This industry is completely unpredictable and it can be a challenge to plan just about anything, whether it be a vacation, holidays, getting to our boys’ soccer games, or even dinner at home. Power outages, a VIP table, an unexpected national food writer, a staff shortage, a last-minute TV opportunity, or countless other scenarios and situations can unravel the best-laid plans. There really needs to be an understanding and “go with the flow” attitude among the whole family. We have truly dialed in the art of the last-minute vacation.

What is the secret of staying together in the restaurant industry?

We have always focused on taking advantage of the bonus time we get to spend together, having fun, when most of the more traditional workforce is on the job and the kids are in school. Weekday ski days, morning yoga classes, afternoon mountain bike rides and even being in the house together on a weekday morning gives us meaningful time together. We do love what we do and have learned to embrace the fun and sometimes chaotic lifestyle. One of the most important things is hiring amazing employees you can trust. The team of incredible, genuine, hospitality-driven people we have running Vesta, Steuben’s and Ace do more than we could possibly

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