Denver Chef Bo Porytko will open Molotov Kitschen and Cocktails soon

Chef Bo Porytko wasn’t always allowed in the kitchen.

“Growing up, I would make varenyky, which is basically a Ukrainian pierogi, with my grandmother, but my other grandmother wouldn’t let me cook,” Porytko said. “I’d be in the kitchen with her all day, eating her food and getting hit with a wooden spoon.”

But when he was 16 years old, and his parents divorced, the New Jersey native became his dad’s own personal chef.

“I was pretty much forced to cook for my dad because he didn’t cook much,” Porytko said. “And then my mom got remarried, and her husband is probably one of the best hobby cooks I’ve ever met. He taught me a bunch, and I realized I really enjoyed it.”

The cheeseburger at Misfit Snack Bar inside Middleman bar on Colfax is a signature of Chef Bo Porytko. (Josie Sexton, The Denver Post)

Now, at 39, Porytko is the co-owner of Middleman and Misfit Snack Bar and is getting ready to open an Eastern European restaurant called Molotov Kitschen and Cocktail at 3333 E. Colfax Ave., previously home to To the Wind Bistro, at the end of this year or early next year.

Porytko previously owned Rebel Restaurant, an eclectic RiNo spot with a rotating menu at 3763 Wynkoop St., with his longtime friend Dan Lasiy. But they closed up shop in 2018 when ongoing construction decimated the restaurant’s business, Porytko said.

He then worked at The Bindery in LoHi before Jareb Parker, the owner of Middleman, recruited him to take over the cocktail bar’s kitchen. In 2019, he started Misfit Snack Bar within Middleman at 3401 E. Colfax Ave. The menu, which rotates as often as Porytko gets bored (“which is a lot,” he said), flips bar food on its head. There’s a blooming onion okonomiyaki, a shrimp scampi croquette with roasted garlic compound butter in the center, and a green chili lasagna.

“I don’t know how to run a kitchen,” Parker said. “I was a bartender for 20 years and went to architecture school. Bo and I ended up working so well together, so it was a natural progression to keep working together for Molotov. I couldn’t imagine partnering with anyone else.”

Before starting Misfit Snack Bar, Porytko wanted to open a Eastern European concept called Baba Yaga, a market during the day and restaurant at night with a Byzantine gothic theme, in a larger space, but his funding fell through during the pandemic.

When To the Wind, just down the block from Middleman, closed in May, owner Royce Oliveira gave Porytko the first chance to snag the space.

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