Eat, drink and be merry, courtesy of the Colorado Restaurant Association

Senate President Bill Cadman, a Colorado Springs Republican, and House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, at the Colorado Restaurant Association's Blue Ribbon Reception Wednesday night.
Senate President Bill Cadman, a Colorado Springs Republican, and House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, at the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Blue Ribbon Reception Wednesday night.

The Colorado Restaurant Association hosts one of the best legislative receptions of the year, held opening night when lawmakers are filled with optimism and still humming “Kumbaya.”

“This is a great tradition at the Colorado General Assembly,” said House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, a Boulder Democrat.

“It’s a wonderful gathering. We’re all very excited about starting a new session and it’s always a good time to talk and have a drink with our friends on the other side of the aisle.”

The session opened Wednesday and by law must adjourn in May. The reception was held at the Colorado History Museum.

The Colorado Restaurant Association uses the event to inform lawmakers and reporters about the importance of their industry to state coffers. A variety of restaurants offered small plate samples of tacos, salmon and more.

Senate President Bill Cadman, a Colorado Springs Republican, made it a point to mention to House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, that he had given her a shout out in his loooong speech earlier that morning.

“You did?” she asked Wednesday night, flashing a big smile.

Gov. John Hickenlooper and his ax from The Fort Restaurant, which was used to open champagne bottles.
Gov. John Hickenlooper and his ax from The Fort Restaurant, which was used to open champagne bottles.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, who owned restaurants before going into politics, kicked off the remarks and ended on that same optimistic tone.

“To civility and progress,” he said.

The owner of The Fort Restaurant presented the governor with a bottle of champagne and an ax that Fort founder Sam Arnold used to open bottles of the bubbly. Holly Arnold Kinney told Hickenlooper, who is getting married Saturday to Robin Pringle, that he should use the ax as a sign of good luck for an enduring marriage.

Hickenlooper said he could put the ax to use in other ways.

“President Cadman … ,” he said to laughter.

When it was Cadman’s turn to speak, he toasted Hickenlooper and Pringle but then got in one of one-liners.

“Watch your back tomorrow,” he joked.

Cadman will be seated behind Hickenlooper when the governor delivers his sixth State of the State speech at 11 a.m. today before members of the House and Senate.

Four House Democrats pose for a picture at the Colorado Restaurant Association's reception Wednesday: Angela Williams and Dan Pabon of Denver, Tracy Kraft Tharp of Arvada and Dominick Moreno of Commerce City.
Four House Democrats pose for a picture at the Colorado Restaurant Association’s reception Wednesday: Angela Williams and Dan Pabon of Denver, Tracy Kraft-Tharp of Arvada and Dominick Moreno of Commerce City.

Some factoids about Colorado restaurants, according to the association:

  • There are 10,870-plus eating and drinking locations in Colorado.
  • Total restaurant sales in Colorado are expected to exceed $10 billion.
  • Colorado food service industry will employ approx 264,200 workers.
  • Colorado restaurants will generate approximately $695 million in state and local taxes.
  • There are 2 million-plus meals served in Colorado per day.
  • More than 75 percent of Colorado’s restaurants are independently owned and operated.