Married to Troy Guard, a partner and brilliant executive chef of Nine75, at 975 Lincoln Street (one of the Sullivan owned restaurants), Leigh and Troy met when Leigh and her father, Jim Sullivan, were looking for a talented Asian Fusion Chef for their new restaurant Mao (now Ocean) in Cherry Creek. Leigh says she and Troy became friends first and then dated for three months; took a trip to Las Vegas; and in a “Britney like fever” decided to get married right there. The difference being, their union has lasted.
Leigh is a big part of the reason Ocean, Emogene, and Nine75 are among the top restaurants in the Denver area. For all the activities Leigh is constantly juggling, she says that her daughter will “always be her number one project;” and the adorable Mackenzie is often seen out and about on the social charitable scene with her parents.
As a respected leader in our community put it: “Leigh Sullivan is quite simply delightful. She’s beautiful, smart, funny and a big supporter of many non-profits. Leigh – for generations now - has a rich family history of serious community support.”
Leigh, it’s not too late – Hollywood could still be calling!
What are your responsibilities as the Marketing Director of the Sullivan Restaurant Group? I attend marketing meetings with Cherry Creek North at least twice a month to brainstorm with the other business owners on how to drive business to Cherry Creek; I attend weekly meetings with (when forced : )! to meet with my own restaurants (Ocean, Emogene, and nine75) - for the same reason; I write and send out press releases to media; I compile a monthly newsletter with SRG’s latest happenings; I brainstorm and design our ads; I manage and update our websites; I contact national press for the restaurants; I throw elaborate parties- most with a charity tie-in; I baby-sit (everyone around me); and I try to micromanage every little detail... phew!! I am sure I am forgetting something! Literally everything you look at - our Corporate Image, etc. I have looked at - and signed off on.
What do you love most about Denver? I am a native Coloradoan - what else is there to say!? I love this city so much- I never left. And, when I did (to go to boarding school) I came right back.
How has Denver changed through the years? It's become more exciting - maybe a little hipper - or maybe that is just my personal perspective - maybe it's always been a BIG, beautiful, cosmopolitan city, and I am just now noticing.
What will we find you doing on weekends? If I am not working, I might be out to dinner with girlfriends, walking my dogs, on a date with my husband, or spending time with my AMAZING 11 year old, Mackenzie.
How do you feel Denver is ranking as a "top destination city" these days? I feel like we have everything - well almost everything going for us - we don't have the ocean. We have an amazing thriving cultural scene; with gorgeous museums, amazing restaurants, great live music – and along with some pretty great professional sports, we have the most GORGEOUS weather. I am passionate about my city, and everything it has to offer.
Would you ever want to live somewhere else other than Colorado? YES! I would live in New York! Troy and I would leave tomorrow, if it were about "just us.”
When in New York City, what’s the first restaurant you and Troy hit? Tao.
How do you decompress after a hectic day? I love to watch really bad mindless TV.
Do you have a favorite vacation spot? I am absolutely in love with the Marquis in Cabo San Lucas - beautiful water, great food, great rooms, and special memories. Troy takes me there every year for our wedding anniversary.
Where haven’t you been, but would still like to visit? Asia, Italy, or Greece.
Describe yourself: I am fiercely loyal, loving, headstrong, opinionated; I don't see the world in colors - only black, or white. I love to laugh, and I love to have a great time, I am sarcastic, dead-honest, tough in business, and have been know to be quit funny - depending on who you ask! I am complex and simple all at the same time. : )
Can you share a fond childhood memory with us? When I was 5 years old my mom gave me a puppy for my birthday. I loved that guy; I named him Robbie after my childhood crush - Robert Redford.
What's the “high” and “low” of working in the restaurant business? The high is when you have put your heart and soul into a restaurant and people love it, and talk about it, and talk to you about it! The low is putting your heart and soul into a place - and they just don't "get it," - or walk in the door.
When you were a young girl, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up? I always thought I wanted to be a teacher.
What do you consider your proudest accomplishment so far? Watching my baby girl (now 11) grow up to be this amazing person.
Do you have a favorite saying or quote you like? "Well-behaved women rarely make history" by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.
You probably attend many charitable events; what are some of your favorites? For the last 4 years I was a co-chair for Harrison Memorial Animal Hospital's event Mutts & Models. I am very proud of the work I did there. I have a personal interest in Judi's House, Matthew Shepherd Foundation, Susan G. Komen, CAP, American Transplant Foundation, & Dani's Foundation - but, the one I am MOST excited about is Colorado Neurological Institute’s (CNI) “Dancing for a Cause.” My husband is dancing!!
Is there a magazine you just love to read and can't wait for the next issue to arrive? US Weekly; should I admit that?
How about a favorite book you would recommend to others? The most powerful book I ever read was Lucky, by Alice Sebold.
Who would you like to be stuck on an elevator with - or who would you like to have jumping out of your birthday cake? I would like to be stuck in an elevator with Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans. Well, my husband says I am “boy-crazy” so that list of “birthday cake jumpers” would be a long list.
How do we get more of the younger generation interested in charitable giving and philanthropy - or to just giving back in any way to their community? We the younger generation can't write large checks - yet. But - every little thing counts. When you get involved in charity - you have to ask yourself does this charity move me, does it mean something to me? And if it does - it makes it easy to jump in anywhere the non-profit needs you. Everything you do makes a HUGE difference!
What should all of us be working on these days to make our country better for future generations? Teach honesty, compassion.
If you could trade places with a famous historical figure for just one day, who would it be? Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
What do you consider a priceless gift? Honesty, compassion, & loyalty, and of course - photographs.
You are such a high-energy person, where do you get all the "get up and go?" I have A.D.D., and I love to be creative. I always have a million things, projects going on - I am importing drinks, designing jewelry, working on a calendar, working with my husband, working with my daughter - and, I LOVE it! If it were any other way - I would be bored to death.
What's in the future for Leigh Sullivan? To continue to grow as a person, watch my baby girl grow up, be a loving wife and daughter, and hopefully someday; have another child.