Bobby Stuckey’s Restaurant Empire
Meet the mind behind some of Colorado's top restaurants
Even fully masked, there is no mistaking the man with the elegant posture, welcoming presence and surgically fitted suit. As co-founder and the greeting frontman of a restaurant empire that includes Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder and Pizzeria Locale, Tavernetta and Sunday Vinyl in Denver, Bobby Stuckey is an avatar of Colorado hospitality.
The Arizona native got his start at 13, busing tables for $2.01 an hour at Demetras’ Kitchen, a Greek restaurant in Phoenix. “As a dyslexic, challenged student, it was the first time I found success in something,” says the Boulder-based entrepreneur. “Because of that, I fell in love with all aspects of food, wine and hospitality.”
Stuckey’s busboy experience served as an amuse-bouche for a long trajectory of success that included wine director at The Little Nell in Aspen and The French Laundry in Napa—which, under his direction, landed a James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Program—before he landed in Boulder in 2004 to open Frasca with business partner Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson. The pair’s restaurants have certain things in common: impeccable service, great wine and madly delicious food, from salame to budino.
Stuckey maintains nicety in a way that seems mortally impossible. Part of his Zen he attributes to daily runs or bike rides. The other part is a consummate dedication to service. “I wake up motivated to do the best for my staff and my customers,” he says. But of late, there’s been a larger mission: “Since March 17, I’ve been motivated by the fight to save our fragile restaurant industry.”
By night, Stuckey works the floor of his restaurants and admits to still enjoying busing the occasional table. By day, he fights tirelessly to serve Colorado, and for that, he could use a little help. “Our industry needs a unique package from the federal government to support the 11 million workers in America and the 5 million jobs up and down the supply chain. We can’t do it alone,” he says. ”I’m proud of the Independent Restaurant Coalition that myself and many of my industry colleagues are a part of. We need people to reach out to their senators and congresspeople, which you can do at saverestaurants.com.”