Eleven of the Most Desirable Vacant Restaurant Spaces in Denver

Zi South was right across the street from Coors Field.EXPAND
Zi South was right across the street from Coors Field.
Mark Antonation

In the cyclical, cutthroat restaurant world, eateries both stellar and subpar come and go for reasons that seem almost entirely unrelated to the food served. The timeworn phrase "location, location, location" seems to hold at least a grain of truth as critical favorites shut their doors while less deserving establishments keep dining rooms packed. Sometimes success is a matter of a combination of location and concept; if an idea is new or challenging, a trendy neighborhood may be the best bet, while well-tested concepts may find more success in traditionally tough spots. Whatever the case, there are plenty of vacancies around town for restaurateurs to find their niche. Here are eleven of the top addresses that went dark last year but could soon be catering to new crowds.

1. 2229 Blake Street
Former tenant: Zi South
Zi South was opened four years ago by the same family that operates the South Restaurant in Englewood. It closed last fall, leaving a prime location across the street from Coors Field. The restaurant has space for 200 guests (including patio seating) and should be the perfect spot for anyone looking to cater to ballpark crowds and tourists while weathering the ups and downs of seasonal business.

The Sullivan's space will soon be in the shadow of the Dairy Block development.EXPAND
The Sullivan's space will soon be in the shadow of the Dairy Block development.
Mark Antonation

2. 1745 Wazee Street
Former tenant: Sullivan's Steakhouse

Eight months have passed since Sullivan's Steakhouse, operated by the Del Frisco's group, served its last steak — and the for-lease sign is still up. While the corner space is just off the most heavily trafficked stretches of LoDo, the new Dairy Block development (originally dubbed Z Block) across the street, which will feature a new hotel and plenty of commercial space, should give added cachet to the block and make this address more attractive to restaurateurs looking to the future.

Once a bar, always a bar.EXPAND
Once a bar, always a bar.
Mark Antonation

3. 1527 Wazee Street
Previous tenant: Gatsby's

The last two bars to occupy this space, Gatsby's and the Wine Loft before it, didn't last long, but this side of LoDo is crawling with nightlife on the weekends, so the right concept has a built-in clientele — if the idea is sound. The interior lacks an oven hood and grease trap, so food service would have to be creative, but similar models like Bar Fausto, which dishes up phenomenal Italian finger food with minimal equipment, are doing well in other neighborhoods. Maybe all that's needed is someone looking beyond the latest trend to bring something classic and timeless to this stretch of Wazee.

The Moontower sign is lit, but nobody's home.EXPAND
The Moontower sign is lit, but nobody's home.
Mark Antonation

4. 609 Grant Street
Previous tenant: Moontower Tacos

Fans of the overstuffed Texas tacos served by Moontower were shocked when the fast-casual eatery closed without notice in September. The shopping center's prime location on Sixth Avenue near Speer Boulevard — and within walking distance of densely populated residential neighborhoods — should make this a desirable space for other Denver concepts looking to expand. And that's what Sanborn and Company, the group handling the lease, expects to happen. Although a specific name hasn't been given, the property is currently under contract with the owner of two other Denver eateries.

Keep Capitol Hill weird.EXPAND
Keep Capitol Hill weird.
Mark Antonation

5. 1350 Grant Street
Previous tenant: Panera Bread

Capitol Hill denizens aren't exactly known for their loyalty to corporate concepts, so it wasn't surprising to see Panera vacate the neighborhood. There's already a Tokyo Joe's in the ground-floor retail space of the Residences at Capitol Heights, so another national chain probably isn't wanted. In keeping with the neighborhood vibe, what's needed is something with independent, artistic spirit and a sense of originality. Just down the street, that model has shown success: It's where the Sub-Culture sandwich shop moved in to fill the void left by an underperforming Chipotle.

El Tepehuan is moving south, leaving a prime South Broadway spot.EXPAND
El Tepehuan is moving south, leaving a prime South Broadway spot.
Mark Antonation

6. 3457 South Broadway
Previous tenant: El Tepehuan
This is the only available space on our list that's outside Denver city limits. El Tepehuan closed in November with plans to reopen this spring just down the block (at 3495 South Broadway), leaving a vacancy that will likely need a little elbow grease to bring it up to modern standards (the Mexican restaurant had been in the same spot since 1978). Swanson Properties Limited says that a lease has yet to be signed. While Old Town Englewood isn't on every hipster's list of prime dining destinations, the area is ripe for a renaissance, with a handful of other longtime businesses recently vacating, leaving several lease-able options on the block.

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