DENVER – As the Denver area continues to develop, so must the businesses that have become a staple in the community. With new restaurants venturing into the area on a regular basis, Sweet Destinations, A Travel Cafe has rebranded and is now Latitudes Bar and Grill.
Owners Steve and Patti Merkle opened Sweet Destinations in June 2014, offering a unique blend of services. In addition to a deli-style lunch or some fresh baked goods, the Merkles also helped their customers plan their next vacation.
“The travel business is doing really well, so we wanted to keep that involved and obviously travel and eating and drinking are kind of synonymous with one another,” Steve Merkle said. “Obviously there’s a huge amount of growth taking place, with literally 500 homes being built within a mile or two, so we have a location that we feel will be a good situation for us moving forward. There’s going to be a lot of competition along (N.C.) 16 and 73, so we wanted to be on the fringe a little bit and be like a neighborhood bar for Westport, Sailview, Covington and a lot of smaller neighborhoods in the area.”
While Latitudes will be more of a dinner destination compared to the breakfast offerings of Sweet Destinations, the Merkles have been careful not to fix what isn’t broken. Latitudes will continue to sell the items that have made Sweet Destinations such a successful endeavor over the past four years.
“The big difference is that when we were Sweet Destinations we served breakfast and brunch, and now we’re doing lunch and dinner,” Merkle said. “We still have our same menu with a lot of sub trays and a lot of desserts, but we’ve expanded our burger menu as well as our appetizers and our sides. Right now we’re offering three or four dinner items, but we’re still working on that part of the menu. We’ve been here four-and-a-half years, so we’ve built a pretty good customer base and we’re trying to get input from those customers while we craft this menu.”
It’s been about six months since the Merkles committed to converting Sweet Destinations into Latitudes, and a lot of that time was spent researching new items to add to their offerings, including a rotating selection of craft beers.
“Everybody kept telling us that craft beers are the new trend, and I liked the idea of offering some unique craft beers,” Merkle said. “We were originally just going to do beer and wine, but again that customer input drove us to expand that to include craft beer. I’m an old guy who drinks Bud Light and scotch, so I wasn’t well-versed in the craft beer world. We had to do a little bit of studying by going to a lot of the craft beer places on the other side of the lake, so that was a project in and of itself.”
In addition to the craft beer selection, the menu at Latitudes is also likely to include a number of items off the Sweet Destinations catering menu. Some of those items were rolled out at the Monday, March 11, grand opening of Latitudes, and the hits included a mozzarella skewer appetizer with tri-colored tortellini and cherry tomatoes drizzled with a balsamic glaze and a homemade artisan flatbread with fresh basil and mozzarella, as well as the cheesesteaks and burgers made in house.
“I thought the grand opening was well-received,” Merkle said. “We gave out a free drink and free food, so that attracted a lot of people and it was a nice crowd, but not as diverse as I would have liked. We need to attract all segments of the Denver community young and old because we’re in a small town and we can’t just be one thing to one person. But overall we had about 75 people come out, and I thought it went really well.”