Going, going, almost gone. Tomorrow Grand Lux Cafe will join the ranks of eateries that have closed in Park Meadows. Five years ago, not long after the giant restaurant opened, then-critic Jason Sheehan had what might have been the worst shrimp scampi ever...and he didn't find much there that was any better. As he wrote, "Here, all the world's cuisines have collided, the place itself standing like a massive edifice against all that is good and decent in the world, a giant, marbled and sculpted Fuck You to generations of cooks and chefs and every small advance we've made." See also: - Grand Lux Cafe: What happened in Vegas should have stayed there. - California Cafe closes in Park Meadows - Reader: Park Meadows could use some new restaurants
The chain restaurant was indeed grand and over the top -- and never a great fit for Denver. Here's the the back story, as recounted by Sheehan in his 2008 review:
The way the story goes, Grand Lux Cafe began with a request from the owners of the Venetian Resort, Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to David Overton, founder of the Cheesecake Factory empire, to build them a new restaurant. The Venetian brain trust had decided that penny slots, a complete re-creation of a Venetian piazza (including painted-on sky and working canal system) and nineteen (count 'em) other restaurants offering everything from the transplanted genius of Thomas Keller (Bouchon) and Mario Batali (B&B Ristorante) to cheap and sleazy Mexican weren't enough to get the rubes into their joint, and what they really needed was a restaurant that, while appearing to be an ultra-luxe, super-high-end dining establishment, actually offered the kind of crap that the T-shirt-and-flip-flops crowd adores. Agreeing to this devil's bargain, Overton then hopped on a plane and headed for Europe, where he studied opulent Italian trattorias, French bistros and the pastry shops of Vienna before, apparently, being knocked on the head somewhere between the Lainzer Tiergarten and Avenue Emile Zola, forgetting everything he'd seen and, while sitting in the departure lounge at Charles de Gaulle, just throwing together an over-the-top concept on a bar napkin, complete with a menu rife with transgressions against nearly every major culinary canon. The first Grand Lux Cafe opened in Vegas to wild success -- no surprise. Operating 24/7 and seating 550, the place looks like a set from an abandoned production of Caligula (I've seen pictures) and serves, among other things, chilaquiles, duck pot stickers, Maryland crabcakes, Neapolitan pizzas, Carolina barbecue sandwiches, steak frites, sesame tofu, weinerschnitzel and Kentucky hot brown. The operation was so successful that Grand Lux Cafe LLC went on to open locations in nine more states, twelve restaurants altogether, including our very own version at Park Meadows.
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Want to see this marvel? Hurry. Grand Lux will be open just one more day in Park Meadows, then will go the way of the California Cafe, Mikuna, the Counter and other restaurants that closed their doors there.