We had the good fortune of connecting with Katlyn Demaline and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katlyn, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk comes with the territory when you are breaking new ground. If I win, then I’m happy. If I fail then…so be it; I’ve learned something new.
Risk is often referred to as something wildly undesirable but overcoming fear is the only way to experience new and exciting things. In my case, taking risks gives me the confidence to keep opening a new restaurant, or three, each year.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Lady Smok is my self-given title. I love the culture and home that my team and I have curated over the past 3 years in RiNo. Creating this niche category of hospitality where casual dining and elevated care come together gracefully wasn’t easy. Director of Operations? Dishwasher? Catering? You name it, I’m on it.
Food and beverage has such a large piece of my soul. I spent a few years in it all; cooking on the line, private bartending, event planning and serving Korean fried chicken. What I am fortunate enough to do now for a living never seemed a possibility until my move to Denver. Toughest part? Getting someone to take the “risk” on me. Young women in this profession have always had walls to break down and I took the challenge head on.
I beat by the sound of my own drums and not afraid to dance along to the beat. I fought the path that derails so many women in this industry; I’ve been encouraged to take accommodations or roles that seemed more glamorous to the eye.
Building this strong foundation for our rapidly growing restaurant group has been grueling at times but being the behind-the-scenes rock for the people that trust me is something I would never give up.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I typically spend my Sunday afternoons visiting some of the incredible local art exhibits on display at Ironton Distillery, Spectra Art Space, Denver Art Society and anywhere in the Santa Fe Art District. We would have to visit some local thrift stores like Strawberry Mountain, Antiques Etc. or Garage Vintage. I’m always on the hunt for a great piece of furniture to refurbish or colorful 80’s blouse to flaunt.
Vegan dining is my current foodie passion. Somebody People (great people and company for a solo diner – Sam is always so kind), Vegan Van, The Green Bus Café, Piante Pizzeria (gotta have those garlic knots), Watercourse Foods, Superfood Bar, etc.
Spring time in Denver? Outdoor live music at Number 38 is a must.
Farmers markets, roaming around Larimer Street, girls trip to The Beer Spa (the owners Jessica and Damien are complete gems), a drive to Golden for quick hikes and bites.
Cocktail bars in Denver are an oasis for us booze nerds: Lady Jane, Middleman, Gold Point, American Bonded, Brass Tacks (now I’m thinking about that Shrimp BLT).
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My years in Denver have been incredibly enlightening and empowering. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to another food and beverage professional who likes to take risks; Bill Espiricueta. He took the gamble on me to be the lead of his new barbecue restaurant and is an avid supporter of letting young professionals take their stride in this industry. My lessons are to always make time for what makes you happy and don’t force yourself to fit the mold. Be you.