Joe Madril has made the Cool River Café not only one of Denver’s most successful dining establishments, but more importantly (especially to him) a foundation for Colorado non-profit organizations. As a businessman, Joe believes you’ve “got to prioritize what’s important in your life.” Giving back to the community is high on his list.
After graduating from the University of Colorado Business School Joe knew that he wanted to go into restaurant management. Today, he has an impressive record of being in this challenging industry for 30 years. He has been at Cool River Café for nine years, and was at the Dallas, Texas location three years prior to returning to Denver to open this location.
While Joe worked diligently to make Cool River Café the success it is today, he was also spending his time giving back to the community by serving on boards of all kinds, including serving as the Vice Chairman of Convention and Events for the Restaurant Association, Colorado Business Association, Cancer League of Colorado and the Greenwood Village Chamber of Commerce. Perhaps the most important to him, however, is TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors).
This organization hits close to home for Joe, who was raised as a child in an Air Force military family. TAPS gives support to military families that have lost their serving loved ones.
There is only so much time in a day, however, and that is where Cool River Café comes into the scene. “All sorts of non profit groups hold events here, we actually sponsor a class at Smokey Hill High School for a culinary tournament and we provide scholarships
Tell us more about TAPS.
It’s an incredible organization that supports all branches of service. Cool River Café has been proud to sponsor the Gary Morris Golf Tournament that Bo and Lynne Cottrell coordinate. This raises funds for TAPS which supports family members “left behind by those who served in uniform” in all areas including psychological, financial and family counseling.
You mentioned your family was a military family. Who served?
My father served in WWII, Korea and Viet Nam.
What organizations has Cool River Café worked with over the years?
Children’s Hospital for one through the Miracle Kids Network. Whatever we can do, we want to be a good partner. We work with the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Education Foundation. It supports kids that aren’t interested in the college route. I like to be politically active as well; the Arapahoe Men’s Club, town hall meetings, the 1st American State Bank Fitness Festival are all held here.
You mentioned that Cool River Café sponsors Smokey Hill High School students to participate in a Culinary Tournament...
Last year we took third place! It’s held at Johnson and Wales University each year and the state winner goes on to a national competition. We help by providing scholarships, and letting students know what it’s like to be involved in the food service industry.
What is it that brings non profit groups to Cool River Café for their events?
We offer three banquet rooms, a cigar room for smaller events, a large billiard room for less formal events, and we’ve done things like design special menus for non profit organizations. We don’t charge non profit groups a room charge, to keep costs to a minimum. Basically we just cover our costs so that the charity can be as successful as possible.
Why do you give to the community like you do?
My title is ‘proprietor’ and I believe that leads to having a responsibility. You have to be involved to get something back. Sure, we love to have people get to know Cool River Café, but it’s getting to know people in our community and to see important causes succeed that really makes you feel good at the end of the day.
You grew up here, moved away, and came back. Are you here to stay?
I won’t ever move away from Colorado. My parents are from the San Luis Valley, and we still have a lot of family here. I love living here.
What do you do when you aren’t working twelve hours a day at Cool River Café?
We love to ‘tele’ (telemark ski). I’ve never skied ‘downhill’ but did a lot of cross country skiing, snowshoeing and bow hunting. . I ran cross country and was a walk on in track at C.U.In the summer we love to camp and backpack; I like where it’s quiet, very basic.
Is your wife as active and involved as you?
Oh yes! She’s Douglas County High School’s Lacrosse coach. When I get to see one of her games, I get to relax. I love it, I get to support her.
It seems that is what Joe Madril is best at doing…supporting others so that they can succeed.
Yes I knew you way back when Trail Dust was the big steak house in Dallas.
Jamie West Fulks
Nice article. Did you or do you have relatives who attended Central Catholic High School here in Denver? You looked familiar and thought it might be from way back:) Thanks.