Burnt Toast, a breakfast and brunch restaurant on University Hill, closed last week after seven years in business.

The restaurant's owners sold the business to Burnt Toast's chef, who plans to reopen the 1235 Pennsylvania Ave. restaurant as a brunch and small plates café within a few months.

After seven years of running the restaurant, couple Buddy Kring and Ellen Dale decided it was time to try something new and pass the business along to chef Dakota Soifer, who approached the two about buying the eatery.

"Our kids were growing up, we have a blended family of seven," Dale said. "With one left (in high school) and with six out, we were kind of going, 'We have a life in front of us.'"

Kring and Dale turned down other offers in the past, but opted to say yes to Soifer, someone who had become a good friend.

"We could see feeling really good about it," she said.

Dale said the sale is definitely bittersweet.

"We never got to say good-bye to so many people who were regulars," she said. "We wanted to tell them how much we appreciated them, how much they embraced us, how much we loved having that community."

Before coming to Burnt Toast, Soifer was a chef at The Kitchen restaurant in downtown Boulder and also has worked in San Francisco restaurants such as Zuni Café and Julia's Kitchen. Soifer, who graduated from the University of Colorado in 2003, hopes to use his experience to bring something different to the Hill.


"I really appreciate the Hill and what Burnt Toast was trying to do," he said. "... Something other than a sandwich or a pizza spot. There's all the university staff, there are the young professionals that live there.

"We're creating a space that's not only desirable for people who live down the street, but a city and statewide destination."

Soifer is calling his restaurant Café Aion, paying homage to the used bookstore that was located in 1235 Pennsylvania prior to Burnt Toast.

"We hope to have a community space, where we're blending a real kitchen and a real restaurant with sort of a fun, laid-back vibe," he said.

While brunch will be one aspect of Café Aion, Soifer said his focus will be on tapas, or small plates, and an intimate space that can bring some "professionalism" to the Hill.

"I lived on the Hill during college, and it's sort of sad to see it in the state it is," he said. "Having a higher-level place with respect and professionalism, it could be part of a catalyst that might change the Hill for the better."

Soifer said he is shooting for a March opening date for Café Aion. In the meantime, he is awaiting city approval on the restaurant's liquor license and also is planning to give the space a face-lift.