"What an amazing run we've had. I can't thank Denver enough for that," says Olav Peterson, who, along with his wife, Melissa Severson, opened Bittersweet in 2010. "We almost made it to a baker's dozen." But instead, the restaurant at 500 East Alameda Avenue will be closing on September 15, just short of its thirteenth anniversary.
That's because soon, Severson will be Peterson's ex-wife. The two are in the midst of a divorce, and "part of that process is why [Bittersweet] is closing," Peterson says. The building is owned by Severson's parents, who listed it for sale earlier this year for $1.95 million.
The structure was a former gas station; Peterson and Severson remodeled it into a restaurant space with two dining rooms and an outdoor patio complete with garden beds where they grew produce for Bittersweet's menu of seasonal fare.
After its debut, Bittersweet quickly gained a reputation as one of the best fine-dining eateries in town. Over the years, it has quietly maintained that quality, even as Peterson stepped back a bit in the kitchen. "It really increased my ego in the early days," he quips. "Then decreased it later as I let other people shine."
Those interested in attending the party should contact the restaurant directly at 303-942-0320. Bittersweet will be open as usual for dinner service starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday through September 15.
"We've had the most amazing people," Peterson says of his staff, past and present. "You can't do it by yourself." That sentiment extends to the guests, as well.
"I'm so thankful for the support and the community, and all the chefs that support us," he adds, recalling nights when the dining room would fill with "all these old-guard chefs of Denver. There was no better compliment than to have them come in and dine in the restaurant."
He concludes, "Twelve years is a lifetime in the restaurant industry, and I'm so glad we were able to do what we did."
Up next for Peterson: a break. For now, he's keeping his options open.