Openings and Closings

TAG Burger Bar and Big Wave Taco Will Close at the End of October

Head to TAG Burger Bar before October 30 for one last Truffle Shuffle.
Courtesy TAG Burger Bar
Head to TAG Burger Bar before October 30 for one last Truffle Shuffle.
Troy Guard will close two of his concepts before the end of the month. TAG Burger Bar, which has been a Congress Park staple since opening at 1222 Madison Street in 2010, will serve its last beef patties on October 30. Guard is also closing Big Wave Taco, which opened inside the Junction Food and Drink food hall in October 2020; its last day will be October 31.

"We were up for a new lease and the new numbers weren't where I wanted them to be," Guard says of the decision to close TAG Burger Bar. "That's part of the reason. Another reason was staffing. Another reason was, with COVID turning all our worlds upside down, we're just looking to focus on doing different things right now." The space is owned by City Street Investors, which is planning to open a new restaurant concept in the space, according to Joe Vostrejs, the company's co-founder and principal.

The pandemic has brought a lot of changes to restaurants and caused owners like Guard to reassess long-term plans. Guard wants to continue to try and test new things, like his sushi concept, Tiny Giant, which recently opened inside the Milepost Zero food hall at McGregor Square; he's also experimenting with Rado Burgers and Crazy Love Pizza, which he introduced at Grange Hall, the food hall he opened in Greenwood Village in September. But Guard also wants to scale back and shift his focus to expanding four of his other growing brands: Bubu, Los Chingones, HashTAG, and Guard and Grace.

Guard also recently reopened FNG at 3940 West 32nd Avenue. With staffing challenges looming large, FNG had shut its door temporarily in June so that employees could be redistributed to other TAG Restaurant Group locations. The eatery made its comeback on October 7 with a refreshed menu and a new chef de cuisine; if all goes well, Guard would like to add FNG to the list of brands he's working to expand.

The pandemic definitely swamped Big Wave Taco. Junction Food and Drink was originally slated to open in March or April 2020, but the opening delay was postponed by the restaurant shutdown. Instead, it debuted in October 2020. "That's a tough month with fall coming," Guard explains. "So we tried it for twelve months; it wasn't a lot of money we put into it, but it just wasn't worth our time to break even over there. While it's a bummer, at least we tried."

Although losing TAG Burger Bar and Big Wave Taco is a blow, Guard is focused on the future. He plans to not only continue opening and operating locations in Denver, but also in Houston, where the second outpost of his steakhouse Guard and Grace is located. "We really like that city. It's very business-friendly," he notes.

"I'm okay to say I failed," Guard continues. "That's part of life. I live and learn. And sure, my ego takes a bruising, but our employees, our company, our staff, our guests — that's the number-one priority. We just want to focus on different things right now. ... But I have nothing to be ashamed of. Eleven years, that's a good long run."