This mid-century fashionable restaurant, Aurora provides a Chicago-Denver model menu
There’s a little oasis in Aurora, Colorado where both classic Colorado dishes and popular Chicago flavors exist. It’s all wrapped up in a modern take on the traditional diner. Carm and Gia Metropolitan first opened in February 2020. In a turbulent year, this family-run restaurant continues to serve a shared menu of burger specialties, french fries, hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, and burritos. Owners Razz Cortés-Maceda and Tom Klein drew inspiration from their home states when creating the menu and channeled the flavors of the Midwest.
Originally from Illinois, Cortés-Maceda noticed a lack of authentic Chicago food in Colorado. After being fired from her job as a software developer in 2017, she decided to take advantage of the restaurant skills she has had since she was 13. Klein, on the other hand, is from Colorado and understands the state’s passion for greens for truly chili and Mexican-inspired dishes.
“My husband and I have always wanted to own a restaurant. We always wanted to open it in an up-and-coming neighborhood, so we settled in this place, ”said Cortés-Maceda.
The renovation work was not completed until March 2018. They had to completely rework and redesign the plumbing and electrical installations to look like a modern restaurant with modern mid-century decor.
“The original concept was to bring Chicago-style street food to a part of the city where it wasn’t available. Then we decided to add what was popular and specific to Denver. Everyone loves burgers, ”said Cortés-Maceda.
The menu includes Angus beef burgers with an excess of toppings ranging from Mexican chorizo and chicharrones to chipotle date relish and mango pineapple pico de gallo. These burger specialties are not only inspired by Colorado’s flavors, but are also named after well-known neighborhoods such as Globeville, Montbello, Sunnyside and Park Hill.
The natural Vienna Beef Hot Dogs also know the city-inspired flavors. The Windy City is aptly named a Chicago-style menu classic, while Wrigleyville is topped with barbecue sauce, mustard, diced onion, bacon, and fresh coleslaw.
The seemingly endless offer also includes various burritos with carnitas, carne asada, chicharrón, potatoes and French fries, which are available in the morning, noon and evening.
While diner food goes perfectly with a retro theme, for the family business it’s more of a way of life. The name Carm and Gia are short versions of the adult children of Klein and Cortés-Maceda – Carmelo and Gabriella. Much of the restaurant’s menu and decor was a team effort from all four family members. Mid-century modern design was inspired by the family’s love for old school cars. In fact, they own a 1961 Nash Metropolitan that one day is on display in the restaurant.
Although the restaurant has been open since February, the team has not closed during all COVID-19 related closings. They turned quickly for takeout and delivery.
“We offered online orders and deployed employees for delivery services. Neither of them knew how to respond to the new restrictions and guidelines, but we have made a long-term commitment. We learned something new every week, ”said Cortés-Maceda.
As Carm and Gia’s team remain resilient, their community has grown to support them as well. They became part of the Aurora Restaurant program. This program came from a one-time grant from the City of Aurora to enhance the cultural goal. The partnership between the city, the owners and the tenants ensures that the city’s investment in the region remains a family-oriented center.
“The City of Aurora has provided funding to help build retail restaurants in the Aurora Cultural Arts District. The five projects include Lady Justice Brewing Company, Third Culture Bakery, Baba and Pops, Mason’s Dumpling Shop, and Carm and Gia Metropolitan, ”said Andrea Amonick, director of development for the city of Aurora.
While each renter is financially responsible for the decor and finishing touches to their restaurant like tables and chairs, these resources help with essential items like grease traps, ventilation, bathrooms, and ensuring ADA accessibility. These immovable objects make it easy for owners to keep renting the space to future restaurants in the event an individual tenant should depart.
While Carm and Gia Metropolitan’s team already own their building, the program helped them turn around as the COVID-19-related closings began.
Since then, the restaurant has had an enclosed rear terrace with lots of color and green, making it an oasis in the city.It is located at 9598 E. Montview Blvd., Aurora. It is open from Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
All photography by Marla Keown