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All Aboard: American-Made

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Text by Brendan Dabowski 

Photos by Amory Narvaes

Featured Company: Narvaes Western

Location: Denver, CO

Project Type: Restaurant

Project Name: Lower 48

The ingenuity of the American immigrant, Western expansion, and the Transcontinental Railroad are all inspirations embodied in the Lower 48 Kitchen, a restaurant near Coors Field in downtown Denver designed and constructed by Narvaes Western. The minimalistic, contemporary eatery comprises the visions of owner Mario Nocifera, head chef Alex Figura, and Bray Architecture, all of who worked to create a space that is “durable yet simple in its elegance—rugged and functional,” managing partner Amory Narvaes says.

A 1,100-pound railroad-art setup in the Centennial Dining Room (named after Colorado, the 38th state) epitomizes the ruggedness that inspired the design concept. The physical process of installing the art required strong backs, heavy equipment assembly, and engineering efforts, reproducing the endeavors of workers who helped build the Pacific Railroad in the 1800s.

Many other details also echo the central theme. A communal table made from rich mahogany that was reclaimed from a 1930s boxcar centers the room, fitted with lighting that is supposed to simulate that of an old train depot. The restaurant boasts a shipping-container door that was retrofitted with sliding barn-door hardware and a host stand fashioned from “cow panels” from old animal-transport trucks. The standout feature above the L-shaped cocktail bar is made from 18-foot wood planks originally used as the floor of an American-made semi-truck from the 1950s, and a separate 10-seat bar overlooks an open kitchen and cook line that connects the “modern culinary stage to the rest of the open floor plan,” Narvaes says.

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