Penny Parker On The Town: Sonia Riggs named eventual Colorado Restaurant Association chief cheese

September 30, 2013

“Girl” power.

Sonia Riggs, formerly the executive director of the American Institute of Architects Colorado, is the heir apparent to eventually take over Pete Meersman‘s chief cheese job with the Colorado Restaurant Association as Meersman prepares for his departure.

CRA chairman of the board Rich Yoke appointed a search committee to advertise, screen, interview and select someone to serve as the new CRA chief operating officer, a position that will transition into the president and chief executive officer when Meersman, who has led the CRA for 30-plus years, leaves the association Nov. 1, 2014.

As of that date, Meersman will become the CRA’s chief strategy officer by serving on various affiliated boards and working on special projects until November 2019.

“Sonia will officially begin work at CRA on Nov. 20,” Meersman said in a mass e-mail. “She will be at CRA building on occasion before then for other meetings.

“Sonia’s professional references raved about her when I talked to them. (All four AIA references not only praised her, but they asked me not to hire her because they wanted her to stay there.) I spent a morning last talking with Sonia in person. She has a great personality and sense of humor. She will fit in well with our very talented staff.”

Congratulations to Riggs, and I look forward to meeting you!

Sonia Riggs will take over for Pete Meersman as CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association.

Sonia Riggs will take over for Pete Meersman as president and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association when Meersman leaves the group in 2014.


A really big “shoe”

Jeff Shoemaker, who has been a prominent proponent and supporter of the Platte River Redevelopment, will be performing George Gershwin‘s Rhapsody in Blue as part of a benefit concert supporting Up Close and Musical, a local nonprofit that raises funds to provide free concerts to area elementary schools performed by members of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

For the Oct. 5 concert, Shoemaker will be accompanied by CSO musicians under the guidance of conductor Eric Bertoluzzi. The event is being held in honor and memory of Shoemaker’s parents, Penny and Joe Shoemaker, who were co-founders of the Helen Marie Black Music Education Fund dedicated to engaging young people throughout the metro area in the world of music.

Doors to Hampden Hall (on the second floor of the Englewood Civic Center at Hampden and South Jason) open at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 adults, $12 seniors and free for students under 18 and available at

Juicy Lucy or Larry

Sullivan’s, where I enjoyed dining recently, is honoring breast cancer research by donating a portion of sales in October from the restaurant’s new $39 prix fixe menu.

The premium 8-ounce hand-cut filet is paired with your choice of a starter, soup or salad, garlic horseradish mashed potatoes and Bordelaise sauce.

Sullivan’s is located at 1745 Wazee St. and the phone number for reservations is 303-295-2664.

“Orange” you glad for a deal?

Denver hotel The Curtis – a Doubletree by Hilton has an “orange crush” on the Denver Broncos.

According to spokeswoman Julie Dunn, “We’re mad about Manning, wild about Welker and delighted over Decker. that’s why we’re inviting hardcore fans to join us in rooting on the Broncos this fall with a stay at Denver’s only pop culture-themes hotel, and then to come back and do it all again in December.”

Here’s the “Booking Broncos” breakdown:

Rates start at $129 per night when you book your football stay at the Curtis on Oct. 13 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oct. 26 or 27 vs. the Washington Redskins (and former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan) or Nov. 16 or 17 vs. the (4 and 0) Kansas City Chiefs.

And the rest of the story … say “Play it again, Peyton” and earn a second visit to the Curtis for $83 per night – in honor of Welker – plus $18 valet parking with homage to Manning on Dec. 7 or 8 vs. the Tennessee Titans or on Dec. 12 against the San Diego Chargers.

To take advantage of the Curtis Orange Crush offer, call Scott at 720-889-4747. For more information on the Curtis, go to or call 800-525-6651.

And, speaking of the Curtis…

The third annual Denver Public Safety Luncheon, presented by Columbine Health Plan, will be held from 11:30 to 1 p.m. Oct. 9 at the aforementioned Curtis Hotel.

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and the heads of the public safety departments for the city will each give a brief talk on something “new or unique” that people might not know about public safety.

The first Denver Public Safety Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to retired Denver Police Division Chief Jerry Kennedy, who made headlines when he was a police captain as the recipient of a Lincoln Mark IV courtesy of Elvis Presley, the King of rock ‘n’ roll.

The goal of the event is to inform the business community and other interested parties on public safety in Denver. Net proceeds benefit six Denver charities that focus on public safety: the Friends of the Denver Fire Department, Denver Health, the Denver Justice Council, Crime Stoppers, the Denver Police Foundation and the Denver Sheriff’s Foundation.

Sponsor tables are $1,500 and individual tickets are $175 or $100 for those attendees under 35 years old. To register, go to

Angels with a heart

I can’t throw enough praise on Project Angel Heart, the nonprofit organization that provides healthy meals to ailing men, women and children in the Denver area and Colorado Springs, which has been named Top Company of the Year in the Nonprofit Category by ColoradoBiz Magazine.

The 26th annual Top Company Awards took place earlier this month at The Seawell Grand Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

Project Angel Heart was selected, in part, for the successful completion of a $7.1 million capital campaign and subsequent move to a larger home in Denver’s Globeville neighborhood, as well as for the depth of support the organization received from donors and volunteers.

If you care to help out Project Angel Heart, you can make a donation at

Major makeover

Colt & Gray, one of my favorite Denver fine dining (but unstuffy) establishments, reopened Friday night after an astonishing turn-around time for a remake of one week.

The interior has been reworked to add roughly 30 much-needed seats considering how popular the place is. The bar has also been reconfigured to incorporate with the main dining room rather than looking like a separate entity.

Colt & Gray is still working on the build-out of its sister speakeasy Ste. Ellie and charcuterie dispensary Viande, which should be ready to rock in roughly six weeks.

More details at:

Eavesdropping on CBS4’s sports anchor Vic Lombardi on Facebook: “I can honestly say the NFL Red Zone has changed my life. My family hates me more than ever. Thanks, NFL.”

Did you hear that I have a new column, “Mile High Life,” in Colorado Community Media’s 17 weekly newspapers circling Denver? Be sure to like my Facebook page! Also, here’s where you go to get my column emailed to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. My email: Want to advertise your business here? Contact Trisha at

Comments are closed.

Leave a comment