We had the good fortune of connecting with Leigh Sullivan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leigh, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Putting yourself out there takes a lot of guts… I have on so many different occasions put something out there and it has been celebrated with great fanfare, or there have been times I have put something out, and I’ve fallen flat on my face. There really has never been a middle ground between flat out failure & and a home-run in my 30+ career in the restaurant business. Regardless of how you think people are going to react you have to feel good enough about the choices you make because at the end of the day — those were your ideas, your vision and you had to feel good about them to execute them. Be bold & be humble and NEVER believe in your own PR and always be good to your community,
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a little of everything…. I am a creative who loves creating new restaurant concepts, new dishes, new ideas for decor., new relationships/partnerships, new events. I am also incredibly passionate about Animal Welfare which is why in 2020 during the pandemic I made a pivot and I am now the Executive Director for Pepper’s Senior Dog Sanctuary (psds.org) which provides senior dogs with a compassionate, forever home, at our family-owned, veterinarian supervised sanctuary. We care for our dogs for all the days of their lives, including hospice needs. We are the premier “dog retirement community” for canines who need us most – forever. We fill a unique need and space in senior dog sanctuaries. While you won’t find shuffleboard at our sanctuary, our seniors have other amenities and supports that make Pepper’s a well-deserved luxury for senior dogs
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would do a day trip up too the Stanley Hotel and eat lunch at the restaurant Cascades and take a tour of the property and head back to Denver before it gets dark (spooky)! That night I would eat dinner Barolo Grill and let Ryan Fletter & Darrell Truett take care of you — I would order of of their tasting menu and I would let Ryan pick your wines for each course! I would also highly recommend doing a “High Tea” at the Brown Palace. Concerts at Red Rocks is also a must in the summer. Weekend trips to Vail, Aspen, Glenwood Springs to enjoy the hot springs. or a trip up to the Western Slope to check out the wine country and some of the most beautiful produce in the whole world are pretty great too.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Every single person I’ve ever worked with deserves a shoutout, even and especially the difficult people I have worked with deserve a shout out. Sometimes the people who challenge you the most, end up being the people I learn the most from. I have been fortunate to work with some of the best in the hospitality business here in CO and they’ve all left a mark on me. However there are 2 people in particular that I have learned the most from and that is my father, Jim Sullivan who taught me at a young age how to put my head down and to work for what I wanted. I was a young woman in the restaurant business 1990-2010 in day to day operations that never took anyone’s shit and that was rare because I was in a male dominated business — he taught me to be thick-skinned and to know my worth, and to lead with love and passion. And the 2nd man I have worked with is my husband, Travis Plakke. Travis and I have only been together for 10 years, but in those 10 years, Travis has taught me to be more patient, not to stress as hard and most importantly — he has taught me how to slow done and how to enjoy the simple moments in life, and also how to eat in a restaurant w/o critiquing our meals in restaurants!