As general manager of Denver’s Departure Restaurant + Lounge, located adjacent to Cherry Creek’s Halcyon Hotel, Jason Gordon oversees the Modern Asian restaurant and lounge, a rooftop bar, as well as the Halcyon’s banquet and room services. Inspired by the inventive menu and beverage program, he applies his seasoned managerial expertise to ensure smooth operations that allow the cuisine to shine. His personal hospitality philosophy focuses on presenting each guest with a memorable and authentic dining experience, recognizing the strong emotions involved. “I remember where my wife and I went on our first date, the restaurant I choose for the night of our engagement, and the restaurant we went to when I found out she was pregnant with our son,” he says. “The idea that people opt to share these important nights with us is awe-inspiring, and we never lose sight of that.”
Value for the individual experience informs his leadership tactics as well. “We often spend more time with the people we work with than our own loved ones,” Gordon explains, “so the work experience needs to be empowering, productive, and healthy.” He does his part to hire passionate people, act as a mentor, and create a rewarding environment for the entire staff.
As a child growing up in Columbus, OH, Gordon often assisted his mom in the kitchen, where she honed and showcased her exceptional cooking and baking skills. His father, too, provided early inspiration by taking the family all over the country to sample the best restaurants of the time. These youthful experiences offered valuable juxtaposition, eventually influencing Gordon’s approach to hospitality management, marrying elevated standards with a welcoming outlook.
Gordon learned how to engage and captivate his clientele while working at Boca Café during his time as a student at the University of Cincinnati in the mid-1990s. Chef and Owner Dan Reis served as a mentor for Gordon, teaching him how to deliver exceptional service in a vibrant environment. After graduating from school in 1999, Gordon took the knowledge he gained from Reis and moved to Denver to serve and manage restaurants for nearly 12 years. After ascending the ranks in a classic fish house and a AAA Four Diamond European restaurant, he worked for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants for six years as manager and, later, assistant general manager at Northern Italian eatery Panzano within the Hotel Monaco.
Sticking with Kimpton when he moved to Portland, OR, in 2012, Gordon ran several outlets connected to the Hotel Vintage Plaza, and thrived in the fast-paced position managing Pazzo Ristorante. After earning Kimpton’s Integrity Award in 2013, he rose to the role of city manager, expanding his reach to include Red Star Tavern and a total of thirteen managers and more than 150 employees. In 2017, when the general manager post opened at Departure Denver, Gordon jumped at the chance to return to the city where he met and married his wife, and to oversee the dynamic, immersive dining destination. Outside of work, Gordon enjoys reading, traveling, and dreaming about his family’s next adventures.