March 27, 2018

Big Red F means food, fun for Query’s fans

Dave Query, Big Red F • 2018 Boulder County Business Hall of Fame

Diners around the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado keep asking Dave Query what the “F” in his Big Red F restaurant empire stands for. The answer, he contends, is “absolutely nothing” — except for a great memory.

“I don’t know — maybe friends, family, fishing, food, fun,” Query said. “I went to Fairview (High School) and got a lot of Fs there.”

Actually, he explained, “when the Ben Franklin store on North Broadway failed, the letters that came off the face of Community Plaza were on sale at a thrift store on East Pearl. We were looking for things to put on the wall at the original Jax Fish House, and I grabbed a big red F.”

It definitely could stand for financial success for Query and his company, which today oversees Jax locations and The Post chicken restaurants.

His fondness for the restaurant industry began with his first job, at Mustard’s Last Stand in Boulder, where he learned the gratifying return of making someone something to eat and having them really enjoy it. After attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and a stint as the chef aboard Malcolm Forbes’ yacht (there’s another F), Query worked and staged in some of the best and busiest kitchens of New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and New Orleans, all the while eating out at every dive that would take him. In 1988, he returned home to Colorado and earned some renown as chef and owner of the funky Lick Skillet Café in Gold Hill, then as executive chef of Cliff Young’s in Denver, and finally as chef and owner at Q’s Restaurant in the Hotel Boulderado.

In March 1994, Query opened the first piece of what would become The Big Red F Restaurant Group: Zolo Southwestern Grill in Boulder. Nine months later, he opened the first Jax Fish House on Pearl Street in Boulder, and more eateries were to follow, including the purchase in 2004 of a Boulder institution, the West End Tavern. The first of four chicken restaurants called The Post made its debut in Lafayette in 2014.

“It’s all fun — meeting people, the opening process, figuring out what food style we’re going to do. There’s no downside, except dealing with the city. That’s a pain.”

“F” could stand for future concepts, but Query said “we’re really focused on Jax and the Post right now. We’re trying to not just be running all over the place trying new ideas. We’re hunkering down and growing those two concepts. But there’s always that fun desire to try something new, so never say never.”

His company gives back to the people and communities responsible for its success through a series of local charities and nonprofits.

It’s all brought Query a measure of fame — yet another F-word, as in Boulder County Business Hall of … “

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct the location of Zolo Southwestern Grill.

View 2018 Boulder County Business Hall of Fame publication.

Diners around the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado keep asking Dave Query what the “F” in his Big Red F restaurant empire stands for. The answer, he contends, is “absolutely nothing” — except for a great memory.

“I don’t know — maybe friends, family, fishing, food, fun,” Query said. “I went to Fairview (High School) and got a lot of Fs there.”

Actually, he explained, “when the Ben Franklin store on North Broadway failed, the letters that came off the face of Community Plaza were on…

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