The Wazee Supper Club has been serving cold beer and hot Colorado-style pizza since it was founded 38 years ago by the Karagas brothers, Jim and Angelo, who'd opened My Brother's Bar a few years earlier at 2376 15th Street. From the start, the Wazee was lower downtown's go-to neighborhood bar -- long before the neighborhood got its LoDo nickname and slowly transformed from a dusty, dusty, downtrodden warehouse district into a hot-hot residential area.
And although Angelo, who presided over the Wazee, has passed away (you can still find Jim at My Brother's), and the restaurant is now part of BW Holdings, which owns the Wynkoop and Breckenridge breweries along with more than a dozen restaurants and pubs in Colorado, it's held fast to its mission as a true neighborhood bar.
But that doesn't mean that the spot couldn't use a little gussying up. So on Friday, April 27, the Wazee will close for three weeks for a big remodel and kitchen renovation. Among the planned improvements: more table and bar seating, new bathrooms, a paint job and air conditioning. (Both the black-and-white-checked floor and the dumbwaiter that delivers food and drink to the mezzanine will stay.) But the biggest change will be the kitchen.
"We're going to move the kitchen behind the west wall where there is a big space not suitable for seating," BW director Lee Driscoll explains. "We are also going to upgrade the kitchen so we can deliver our product on time. We get slammed and can't crank it out fast enough."
When it reopens in May, the Wazee will hold a 38th-anniversary party.
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BW Holdings recently renovated the Breckenridge Ballpark Pub and will embark on similar remodels of Gaetano's and the Wynkoop in coming weeks.; this fall, it will also start work on the Pearl Street restaurant that it will put into the space now holding Izakaya Den -- but that won't happen until Izakaya's new home is ready in the former Pearl Street Grill space.
There are no plans to update the legendary Cherry Cricket, which expanded a few years ago -- and can now count as its fans the Secret Service agents who ordered to-go burgers while President Barack Obama was staying at the nearby JW Marriott Monday night. A version of this story originally appeared in Cafe Bites, our weekly newsletter devoted to Denver's food and drink scene, which arrives in e-mail boxes every Wednesday afternoon. Find out how to subscribe here.