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"We're trying to get an extension from the people who will own the property," says spokesman John Imbergamo, who gives that a 50 percent chance. "It doesn't look good," Goodfriend says simply. "We don't want to lay off our wonderful staff of a hundred employees. We have lots of people who've worked for us for ten or fifteen years. That's our biggest concern."

In the meantime, Racines is moving full speed ahead with plans to tear down the two buildings now located in the 600 block of Sherman and replace them with one brand-spankin'-new one. Goodfriend says the group thought of trying to resurrect the look of the current Racines, which is housed in an old auto dealership, but "it turned out better for us to do a 9,500-square-foot brick building" with an interior that will be "updated Racines."

At least Racines won't be adding to the neighborhood parking problem: The project includes a parking structure with 81 spaces, 27 more than the restaurant has now. And Racines is planning ahead on another hot issue: According to Imbergamo, the space is "being designed with the possibility of smoking."

Right now, though, most of the smoke is coming from pissed-off customers angry that they might lose their local hang for even a few months. Regulars have even considered petitioning the new owners to let Racines stay around a few more months.

They can sign us up.

One more note from Racines' soon-to-be neighborhood: The Lancer Lounge(233 East Seventh Avenue) still makes a mean Bloody Mary but sadly has lost the cook that won this classic saloon the "Best Unexpected Food in a Dive" award in the 2002 Best of Denver.


A bite of the Big Apple: And speaking of the Best of Denver, what's up with the Morton's of Chicago in midtown Manhattan prominently displaying the cover of the Best of Denver 1988 in its entryway? (There's another copy down by the bathrooms, just in case you missed the first display.)

Yes, Morton's won best steakhouse that year for its then-sole Denver location, located in the Tivoli. But if the midtown-Manhattan outlet needs to tout a fifteen-year-old Denver award, it's got bigger problems than orange alerts.

For your chance to sound off on this year's Best of Denver Readers' Poll, see page 58.

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