Annual Sales: $20 million
• Troy Guard, chef/owner
• Nikki Guard, owner/beverage manager
• Jason Borders, director of operations
• Chris Lotterer, executive of financials
• TAG Restaurant (an upscale blend of classic and contemporary cuisine)
• Guard and Grace (a modern steakhouse)
• Sugarmill (a café-bakery-lounge)
• Sunnyside Burger Bar (hand-crafted beer and burgers)
• Los Chingones (“redesigned” Mexican; 2 units)
• Tag Burger Bar (hand-crafted beer and burgers; 2 units)
• Bubu (bowls of fresh veggies and proteins; 2 units)
• Opening 4 units in next 12 months.
WHY IT’S COOL:
Chef/owner Troy Guard tells you he was “raised with his bare feet in the chill foam of Hawaiian beaches.” And that’s all well and good, but it belies just how focused he is about creating kick-ass restaurants that are seriously fun and profitable. He cut his teeth working for some of America’s best chefs, including Roy Yamaguchi and Richard Sandoval. He also ran the kitchen at TAO in New York City. This guy knows what he’s doing and the result is some of Denver’s coolest restaurants with terrific food. Despite his high-end pedigree, Guard has also demonstrated he knows where the market is moving and he’s jumped on board the fast-casual movement with Bubu, where customers build noodle and rice bowls. TAG is a solid company that has served Denver well.