Colorado restaurants take a stand ahead of the 2020 election

While a lot of restaurants have changed their menus during the pandemic, adjusted formats or switched up service, few have completely altered their mission and found a new purpose.

At downtown Denver’s Dairy Block, the space that previously operated as Bruto has done just that. After sitting unused for months, owner Kelly Whitaker recently reopened the restaurant as an “advocacy kitchen,” where chefs can utilize the public platform to cook and converse with diners, who are able to share in their passion and message.

Leading up to the November election, that message has become increasingly more focused.

Taj Cooke is the first chef to take over Bruto’s kitchen and dining space, where he’s preparing Jamaican Ital (pronounced eye-tal) dinners, or vegan Rastafarian food. Cooke says the cuisine — made with fresh vegetables, beans and rices, savory spices and native fruits such as mango and coconut — is based on the Rastafari concept of livity.

It’s meant to be “everything positive and everything from the earth,” he said. “If it doesn’t give you positive energy, it’s not going to be on your plate.” But Cooke also recognizes that positivity isn’t always easy to come by these days. And in that case, “positivity is the ultimate form of protest,” he added.