Denver’s restaurant scene runs the gamut of cuisine, vibe, aesthetic, and speciality. The stylistic demand is as varied as the menus, as is the art of creating a popular eatery that integrates seamlessly into the character of the neighborhood in which it is placed. Whether we are looking at architects who are still growing their portfolio but have made a noticeable, albeit small, splashes in Denver’s restaurant design, or firms with a longer history of making their mark on Denver’s aesthetic, the list below includes a diverse group of professionals all ready to meet different market needs. Some of these firms have a strong grasp of how to pull out the unique character of a chain, while others are pushing the boundaries of Denver’s style and crafting the new trends that Coloradoans will celebrate in the future.

Top Architects

Michael Koch Architect

Michael Koch

130 W 12th Avenue, Denver, CO 80204

About Michael Koch Architect

Michael Koch Architect was founded in 2003 by Michael Koch, who graduated from Washington University and then went on to get a Master of Architecture from Yale in 1996. He is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and licensed in Colorado, California, Nevada, and Arizona. In 2013 Michael Koch Architect expanded his staff to include other firms in order to create a larger network of design professionals. Michael Koch Architect’s growing portfolio is varied in both project type and aesthetic, showing a capacity for diverse niches. It’s not clear which niche the firm will land in yet, and though their restaurant scene involvement is still minimal, they made a big splash with an attention-grabbing cafe renovation that may be pointing in the direction of their future.

Featured Projects

Cherry Bean Coffee, a coffee shop that also offers delicious eats, has been listed by Thrillist as one of Denver’s new hot spots. Located in the Sunnyside neighborhood, what seemed like a potentially small endeavor took on great importance for Michael Koch Architect. The challenge was to accommodate a full-service coffee and espresso bar in the small, abandoned office space. Reinvigorating that old-timey vibe, they uncovered and revealed historic brick and quality pre-existing materials that could have been easily overlooked or taken for granted. A smooth, bright wooden countertop, industrial hanging light fixtures, and a well-situated coffee bar combine to make this space hum with appeal. Cherry Bean Coffee was a nominee for Best Coffee Shop on Denver’s A List and it’s not hard to see why.

LIV Studio

Brandon Anderson
Preston Reed
Tana Anderson

AIA Colorado Young Firm of the Year,
AIA Denver Mentor of the Year

1336 27th Street, Denver, CO 80205

About LIV Studio

LIV Studio is smaller design firm that values working with their clients at the client’s own space. The team includes Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified and American Institute of Architects (AIA) member Brandon Anderson, as well as Preston Reed and Tana Anderson. LIV is dedicated to the continuous research of new materials and methods of fabrication. They believe that design meets technology to generate great architecture, and the question, “why not?” is what leads to tremendous discoveries. LIV won the IIBA Merit award for Sushi Rama, the 2015 AIA Colorado Young Firm of the Year, the 2013 AIA Denver Mentor of the Year, and the 2012 AIA Denver Young Architect of the Year. Their approach is boutique and their reach is still growing, but LIV’s unique and cutting-edge application and execution isn’t going unnoticed in Colorado’s growing architectural hub.

Featured Projects

Cochino Taco got a major overhaul when LIV came in and turned the drab exterior into a bright, inviting, open space with a white awning and a red umbrella-filled patio. Handsome, multi-textured woodwork interiors, wooden tables, and a long bar with silver diner stools make the space feel eclectic, hip, and lively. Denver’s Masterpiece Kitchen is an example of LIV’s ability to pair simple, boxy exteriors with clear brand placement and backyard charm. The adjacent, outdoor, partially enclosed wood paneled patio is a surprisingly pleasing contrast to the clean, industrial bulk of the main exterior. Echoed inside with a blend of wooden backdrops, small steel hanging lights, and thick countertops, Masterpiece Kitchen is contemporary, creatively structured, and down to earth

OZ Architecture

Jim Bershov

3003 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80205

About OZ Architecture

OZ Architecture has been bringing a spirit of collaboration and a hip, contemporary design aesthetic to the Denver metropolitan area since 1964.

OZ is staffed with an impressive list of principals, including LEED certified, FAIA fellow Jim Bershov, who received his Master of Architecture with Distinction from the University of Michigan and serves as vice-chairperson for the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission. OZ was recognized as a ColoradoBiz Top Company of 2017 for their innovative, solution-based contributions to both local and global communities, as well as for their internal community outreach program, called OZ Gives, which provides their staff with opportunities to plan initiatives that support the community where they work and live. They were responsible for the design of Row 14, The Nickel, Denver’s Punch Bowl Social, and the Ricard Brasserie and Liquor Bar.

Featured Projects

When designing the Ricard Brasserie and Liquor Bar, OZ took into account its location at the base of Snowmass Mountain and designed a space that could speak to more than one complementary aesthetic. Ricard’s manages the old-timey lodge visual, with exposed beams, long windows, and a fireplace. Then OZ brings in a modern spin with an eclectic, high-ceilinged sitting room and a slightly more casual dining room extension. Denver’s Punch Bowl Social is part of a sassy chain that combines drinks, food, games, and karaoke into one social experience. OZ had to get creative to craft a space that could accommodate the diversity of activities without losing visual pizazz. A full floor-to-ceiling glass front window offers an immediate sense of openness, while a strong, well-placed awning displays Punch Bowl’s fun electric sign. Mixed interior materials, including exposed piping, brick, and a decent dose of industrial chic, pays homage to a hip, modern night out.

ArcWest Architects

Todd L. Heirls
Kevin H. Anderson

2406 W. 32nd Ave, Suite A, Denver, CO 80211

About ArcWest Architects

ArcWest Architects is a more recent addition to the Denver scene. Since 2006, ArcWest has created an impressive portfolio that includes ample restaurant design, as well as commercial, residential, warehouse, and corporate design. Founding partner Todd L. Heirls enjoys collaborating directly with senior management and uses his welding expertise to create custom steel details to directly add to a project. ArcWest’s other founding partner, Kevin H. Anderson, brings over 25 years of experience as a licensed Colorado architect. ArcWest was named one of the top 19 best architects in Denver on Expertise. They don’t have the same scorecard as other Denver firms when it comes to ground-up builds for restaurant facilities, but their ability to renovate existing restaurants with fantastic outcomes keeps this firm on the list of important contributors.

Featured Projects

ArcWest put their touch on what is considered one of the best Mexican restaurants in town — Patzcuaro’s on 32nd Street. With a modest $65k budget, ArcWest renovated the exterior without compromising the integrity of the original facade. Patzcuaro’s now has a storefront entry and window system that provides ample natural light and also offers a fresh yet historic look. The storefront of the kitchen was replaced and redone to include a serving window so “Taco Tuesday” could roll out To-Go orders, which is a great example of ArcWest’s knack for making simple functionality a part great design. Keeping in the tradition of ArcWest’s ability to enhance the potential of pre-existing spaces, ArcWest used their keen eye and functional sensibility to reimagine the edifice of a former and future brewing company. ArcWest architects provided planning, layout, and brewery design services for the new brewhouse and taproom inn “SoBo’s,” in the Denver antique district. The key was incorporating the essence of the historic foundation while adding new artistic elements to freshen up the vibe.


John Rowland and Sarah Broughton

ASID Crystal Award,
AIA10 People’s Choice Awards,
AIA10 Historic Preservation Award,
AIA Colorado Award of Excellence

1830 Blake Street #200, Denver, CO 80202

About Rowland+Broughton

Rowland+Broughton is committed to creating lasting relationships with clients whom they can work with again and again as trusted advisors. Since 2003, Rowland+Broughton has executed award-winning projects led by AIA members John Rowland and Sarah Broughton. Their restaurant design has been nationally recognized by Hospitality Design Magazine, and they consider themselves foodies, readers, explorers, and students of life. Their firm offers comprehensive architectural, urban, and interior design services and takes a client through the process from pre-design through installation. With studios in Aspen and Denver, they are making a growing imprint on Colorado’s evolving national image. When it comes to restaurant design, Rowland+Broughton makes sure to bring their understanding of code analysis, as well as their dedication to sustainable design, to create a space that is at once functional, sound, and stunning.

“I grew up in a wonderful house in Portland, Oregon – a 1920s English Tutor with great, classic design – so I was always spacially aware. From a very early age – I’m talking 5 years old – I would draw floor plans. I took a lot of art classes, and by my senior year in high school, I went to my calculus teacher and we agreed that my interest in art and math was a perfect mix for a career in architecture.” – Sarah Broughton, AIA, Principal

“The first three years after starting our business, we worked out of our condo in Aspen. We literally moved our living room furniture out, and our kitchen table was our conference room. One of our clients was like, ‘I’m going to remember sitting here one day.’ We saw him recently, and we chuckled about it.” – John Rowland, AIA, Principal; Sarah Broughton, AIA, Principal

Featured Projects

In April 2016, the R+B designed Matsuhisa sushi restaurant opened in Cherry Creek North. Leveraging the travel experience of R+B principals Sarah Broughton and John Rowland to Japan, R+B brought an elegant and purposeful design to the 7,800 sq ft space. The natural colors and textured light from the wood screened windows give a calm and humble ambiance to the restaurant. Equipt with a waterfall and zen garden at the entrance the diners are immediately transported into a different setting upon arrival.

“Great design evolves from a process of discovery, connection and experience.  I am agile as a designer and flexibility is part of our culture at R+B.” – Sarah Broughton, AIA, Principal

Trapp Associates

Shemryn Trapp

965 Linden Avenue, Boulder, CO 80304

About Trapp Associates

Trapp Associates opened up shop in 1981, and they were dedicated to a simple and specific goal — offering innovative solutions to the restaurant development industry. Thirty-five years later, with a portfolio of over 360 restaurants, they have grown to be distinguished in their specialty. Their projects include small, independent startups and national multi-unit chains. Trapp Associates is a boutique firm, able to take on large projects and utilize their specific restaurant industry expertise to avoid final-hour catastrophes with city planning, city signage, and kitchen equipment and health department requirements. Trapp Associates can begin at the base of a client’s needs (site selection) and work their way through the nitty-gritty details (permit and construction documentation).

“At Trapp Associates our greatest challenge and satisfaction is creating the best “stage” for Operations to win on” – Tim Trapp, President

Featured Projects

Rock Bottom, one of the first full-service dining brewpubs in Denver, provides warmth, openness, and artistry, with design hints of Frank Lloyd Wright in the use of leaded glass panels. A private party room and covered patio allow the space to open up without feeling daunting, and the large copper suspended in a two-story glass enclosure is an ode to the ultimate brewpub visual. On a major thoroughfare from Denver into the mountains, Trapp Associates gutted and re-envisioned a historic building into what is now the El Rancho. Its 12.6k square feet of lodge-like character, including preserved lacquered logs, make this establishment feel down home, while the brewing equipment at the front entry and the open floor plan gives it a contemporary edge.

“While working for one of Colorado’s premier architectural firms ( Carl Worthington Associates) in Boulder had the first restaurant chain client fall to me. Later becoming the VP of design and architecture for the Cork n Cleaver chain marched that chain across the US. Trapp Associates was founded in 1981 following the Corks closure and have provided design and architecture services to many national and international restaurant companies ever since. We have found after hundreds of projects of all scales a restaurant has to: “ work first and look fantastic second.” Because of the three pillars of restaurant success: Food, Service, Site/ Design, food is first, service second, and what we do is third. Of course, great success happens when you can get all three to be exceptional.
We have learned a whole new dimension of achieving restaurant success by opening and operating our own restaurant, U Turn BBQ, and Brewery. We believe the heroes in the equation are the staff that shows up every day to make special guest experiences.” – Tim Trapp, President

Applebaum Architects

Marc Applebaum

1623 Oneida Street, Denver, CO 80220

About Applebaum Architects

Marc Applebaum was profiled as one of the top 15 architects in Denver on BuildDirect 2016, and it’s his mission to ensure that the surroundings where people live and work generates a sense of well-being and balance. Serving on the City of Denver Arts & Venues Committee from 2013-2017, Marc integrates community involvement and a deep respect for the artistry of historic materials into his professional life.

Featured Projects

It’s the combination of two early 1900s buildings that create the Tavern Downtown and the Cowboy Lounge, which sit below a rooftop bar and deck designed for year-round use. The Rooftop Tavern was named one of America’s 10 best rooftop bars by Frontier Airlines magazine. Applebaum cultivated both charm and functionality with large accordion doors, an outdoor fireplace, video projection screens, and separated seating areas with views of downtown, the mountains, and Coors Field. When Applebaum took on Racine’s — considered a Denver institution and favorite meeting place — the design had to be based on favorite elements of the original structure. Applebaum had to take care not transform the identity into something unrecognizable for dedicated patrons. The striated brick masonry and articulated building massing fit the bill, and an adjacent 28k-square-foot parking structure was designed to relieve neighborhood traffic and parking issues.

Studio Atlantis

Jeff Metheny

7354 S Alton Way, Centennial, CO 80112

About Studio Atlantis

Studio Atlantis specializes in restaurant and retail design, and they pride themselves on an in-depth understanding of the needs of a restaurant customer. Their multi-disciplinary firm combines the talents of design architects, interior designers, and graphic designers. President Jeff Metheny has 20-plus years of retail and restaurant design experience and pays special attention to documentation, permitting, and construction. Senior Designer Alexis Crumb likes to focus her skill set on initial concepting, detail environmental design planning, and brand emphasis. Studio Atlantis has designed more than 30 restaurants and brings their personal, small teams warmth to large-scale, complex projects. Although they don’t appear on the list of firms with multiple design awards, their special focus in restaurants and consistently successful impact on the Colorado restaurant scene is highly notable.

“Defining and solving the puzzle of creating a physical space out of a person’s vision interconnected with real world constraints of budget, regulations, and the ever-evolving customer inspired me to start this career and continues on every project.” – Jeff Metheney, Principal, StudioAtlantis

Featured Projects

When tasked with the challenge of updating and expanding Sweet Basil, a cherished Thai restaurant in Vail, Studio Atlantis used earthy materials, custom lighting, stone walls, and curved floor elements to transform the space into something gorgeously bold, contemporary, and intimate, yet still open. Studio Atlantis has also brought their expertise to chains, such as the exterior reimagining they offered Red Robin Gourmet Burgers. They needed to maintain the customer’s recognition of the brand while also redesigning the look to offer a fresh, modern appeal to the outdated model.

Arch 11

James Trewitt and E.J. Meade

Alpha Rho Chi Medal for Design Excellence,
AIA Emerging Impressions Award

1200 Bannock Street, Denver, CO 80204

About Arch 11

Arch 11 was founded in 1993 by James Trewitt and E.J. Meade and joined by third partner Ken Andrews in 2009. They entered the regional spotlight for their mixed use of development and product design. They do work around their offices in Boulder and Denver and use a 22-person team well versed in the tricks of the trade. AIA member and founder E.J. Meade holds a BA from Colby College and received his Master of Architecture from the University of Colorado and was a senior instructor at the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado from 1993-2005. Founder James Trewitt received an associate’s degree in engineering technology, a Bachelor of Architecture, and a Post-Professional Master of Architecture. Trewitt also taught drawing at the University of Arkansas and Architectural Design and furniture history and design at the University of Colorado. He’s the recipient of the Alpha Rho Chi Medal for Design Excellence and the Emerging Impressions Award from AIA. Mr. Andrews, a student of Meade’s at CU went on to earn an MArch from Rice University.  He was awarded the Colorado and AIA Western Mountain Region young architect of the year in 2011.

Featured Projects

Arch 11 maintained the facade and roof of Happy Noodle — an Asian-influenced noodle house — while rebuilding the entire interior of the restaurant, creating a vibe that is at once rustic and chic with custom seating, tables, and lighting. Graceful combinations of wood and steel make the space feel industrial yet warm. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a neighborhood bar and eatery in Denver’s Prospect Park, is 3,200 square feet of posh elegance. Inserted into a 1930s era bag factory, this intimate homage to Prohibition speakeasies includes a rooftop deck, a curving peninsula bar, and stainless steel beer taps. In downtown Denver’s stadium district, Ignite was inserted into a historic building that was once a pawn shop. The gleaming renovation includes an over-scaled glass stair enclosure, an open air patio, a glass enclosed rooftop bar, and pine textured walls.  The team is currently working on a fourth restaurant, a rooftop glass cube, for the Oak at Fourteenth group and a yet to be named restaurant in Denver’s Dairy Block Development.  “It’s all about making spaces that change one’s expectations while crafting a background for a chef’s art.”

Roth Sheppard Architects

Herb Roth
Jeffrey Sheppard

AIA Architecture Firm of The Year,
AIA Young Architect of the Year

1900 Wazee Street, Suite 100, Denver CO 80202

About Roth Sheppard Architects

Roth Sheppard Architects has more than 105 awards from AIA, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), and other design associations. They’ve put their mark on 80 restaurants since 1983, and they won AIA Architecture Firm of the Year in 2010 for both Denver and the state of Colorado. Principal and founder Herb Roth is both LEED certified and an AIA Fellow, who received his Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the City College of New York. He is nationally recognized for his contributions to the planning of law enforcement and justice facilities. The other principal and founder, Jeffrey Sheppard, was named the Denver Chapter of AIA’s Young Architect of the Year in 1989. Since then, he’s grown into a strong mentor at the firm. He was instrumental in the long-term success of Cucina Colore’s remodel, and he recently spoke about iconic architecture at the 2016 AIA Wyoming winter conference.

Featured Projects

Izakaya Den, an elegant two-story Japanese restaurant in near Wash Park in Denver, is both elegant and refined, with large glass windows, clean angles, a 6,000-square-foot dining area, and a 2,000-square-foot kitchen. Ten-foot walls of glass and a long skylight open to change the experience on a warm summer’s eve, allowing diners to become part of the active nightlife. Vesta Dipping Grill in downtown Denver is 4,000 square feet of eccentric, modern beauty. Custom lighting fixtures, precise placement of the grill/hearth area, custom steel fabrications, and a combination of freestanding tables and private enclosed booths allow for seating options that invite the more private diner as well as the casual group of after-work friends.