DENVER – Lincoln County is devouring the newly opened Chillfire Grill.
The restaurant, located at 121 Cross Center Road, has been operating for just more than four weeks, and there isn’t an empty seat during peak dinner hours. Some guests have dined there six or seven times, co-owner Jim Morasso said.
Morasso and business partner Larry “Mooch” Sponaugle have teamed with Larry Griffin to open Denver’s newest hot spot. Morasso and Sponaugle own Epic Chophouse in Mooresville and founded Mickey & Mooch in Huntersville.
Chillfire strives to offer incredible value with an incredible dining experience, Morasso said.
Its name hints at the menu items offered, from cold dishes to hot ones. Morasso described the menu as “current American fare.”
“When I say current, yeah, we have the great standbys of steak and seafood, but we have things like seafood succotash, which is off the chain, a little bit more Southern but contemporary,” he said.
The kitchen’s Southbend broiler is traditional of what would be in a Chicago- or New York-style chophouse. It’s so hot, it sears the meat’s exterior, leaving a little char but trapping moisture inside, Morasso explained.
Every dish is made fresh and to order. The only items frozen are ice cream and shrimp.
The bar contains an extensive liquor collection. The staff has created six original cocktails, including 1673, named after the nearby intersection of N.C. 16 and N.C. 73.
The glass-encased cellar holds more than 1,000 bottles of wines and is part of the dinning room’s décor.
Twelve beer-tap handles line the bar’s back wall, offering craft beers that will occasionally change.
Morasso hopes people see Chillfire as a wonderful addition to Denver, noting that community is an important aspect in the restaurant’s operations as the 53 jobs created were given to local people.
Epic Chophouse Executive Chef Jon Spencer leads the kitchen.
Though the food and atmosphere are different, Morasso said Chillfire and Epic share a common theme.
“Our goal is to open up different concepts with different themes,” Morasso said. “That’s part of what we do, but the one common thread is relationship-based, outstanding value, great food, great service.”