Q + A
the voices of tricia + sam maher
milehimodern visited the latest sweetheart on bustling South Broadway. Somebody People is a vegetable-forward dining experience advocating zero-waste and a menu free of harm. To us, it’s another prime example of how the South Broadway (SoBo) neighborhood is not only on the rise as a popular destination due to new developments but is also at the forefront of incorporating current culture.
Tricia + Sam Maher are the creators behind this forward-thinking restaurant featuring rustic Mediterranean flair (sans meat/faux meat), colorful interiors and art gallery adornments. Originally from Australia, down under nuances have made their way to the Mile High City.
You both mentioned documentaries as being the catalyst for shifting to a vegan lifestyle. What documentaries?
Sam // What the Health
Tricia // Cowspiracy
And you also alluded to the differences between Aussie food culture and the US.
Sam // There’s a greater importance placed on fresh ingredients, lighter flavors, vegetable focus.
Tricia // Dinners and meals are intentional; not just convenient. Nothing tops a dinner with friends, sharing plates, bottles of wine and thought-provoking conversation.
What’s the Australian café culture like?
Tricia // It wasn’t uncommon to wake up, go for a swim, walk the dog and sit down at the café to read the paper over coffee and brekkie before work. Sets the tone for your day.
Sam // A push to do the simple things really well. Intuitive coffee, honest and wholesome food.
Can you walk us through the creative process of designing the space?
Sam // We wanted to create a lighter, inviting and jovial space.
Tricia // We selected bits and pieces, organically along the way, hoping that it would all come together in the end. It was a pleasure working with Spark Design; adapting and changing ideas throughout the build-out.
How did you connect with the artists who decked out the dining room?
Tricia // Elena Gunderson is a friend of a friend whom I had originally met a couple of years ago. I had purchased a Leonard Cohen portrait from her at a Christmas art party. She’s a remarkable artist and Bowie fanatic; thus, our ode to David could not be conceptualized by any other.
The Grace Jones portrait was gifted by our friend Rob Gray who introduced us to the uber talented Chelsea Lewinski. In discussing our vision with Rob, he knew the perfect artist to incorporate.
We were also in attendance of the new Charley Co. space launch with Rob when he overheard Lindee Zimmer talk about leaving “to go get some vegan food.” We’ve always been a fan of her art and jumped at the opportunity to work with her.
You’re no stranger to pop-ups and talked about having “entertaining pop-ups” back home (called: 20ft Monster). Prior to Somebody People you curated pop-up events as Scam Likely Co. What’s the passion behind the pop-up?
Sam // It’s an opportunity to be more creative, build a client base to see what works and is a good excuse to have fun while serving great food.
Tricia // Pop-ups have the allure of an in-crowd party, exclusive event or a one-off experience. It’s fun to give people something different each time.
Your food features Mediterranean flair as a nod to your travels abroad. What’s been your top food stop overseas?
Sam // San Sebastian – total smash of great food and flavors, by the sea. Tuscany – the town of Montalcino where I was forced to spend three days (because our car broke down) drinking amazing plonk and eating pasta. Portugal – town of Lisbon for the amount of culture and rustic energy where there’s a lack of refinement—in exchange for concentration of flavor—in the food. The Greek islands – for the simplicity of sitting in a taverna, by the seaside, eating fresh ingredients is bliss.
What three words would you use to describe Somebody People?
Sam // funky-fresh, humble, entertaining
Tricia // engaging, tasty, local
How will you gauge the success of Somebody People? Money? Acclaim? Personal satisfaction? Vegan converts?
Sam // People’s reception and acceptance of our concept. If they really dig it—great.
Tricia // Become a neighborhood place.
Sam, have you ever been told you give off Wes Anderson vibes? Is that an accurate description, in your opinion?
Sam // No, but I like it.
Tricia, you’re a superhero. Full-time speech pathologist and sustainability warrior. Where has your interest in both paths derived from?
Tricia // I’m intrigued by children, and individuals, with autism. Neurodiversity lends itself to being creative, having an individual perspective and challenging conventions. I think society has a lot to learn from people who think differently and that we should focus therapy less on “becoming normal.”
Sustainability is a conscious effort. There is beauty and purpose in things that are meant to last—whether it be fashion or ceramics. This disposable, convenient society breeds a lack of connection.
Dish on your all-time favorite vegetable? Grain? Dish?
Sam // tomato, lentil, minestrone soup
Tricia // artichoke, farro, cheeky pasta
What is your favorite ingredient right now to use in your cooking, and why?
Sam // orange zest/juice: adding it to any sauce/vinaigrette brightens it up
Tricia // calabrian chili: spice + heaps flavorful
What actor/singer/famous person dead or alive would be a great narrator of your life?
Sam // Rik Mayall
Tricia // Johnathan Rice
Night owl or early riser?
Sam // early riser
Tricia // night owl
(Besides Somebody People) where’s your favorite hangout spot in Denver?
Sam // Port Side, Queen City Collective
Tricia // Stowaway, Pon Pon
Most used app on your phone?
Sam // guardian – to look up football (soccer) scores
Tricia // color story – to organize the Somebody People IG grid
Currently reading/listening or watching to …
Sam // Silo: The Zero-Waste Blueprint by Douglas McMaster, listening to: Kirin J Callinan
Tricia // Essays and Fictions by Brad Phillips, listening to: Orville Peck