As Denver heads into summer, the pace of both openings and closings in the dining scene has ramped up. Way up.
At the close of April, we reported that sixteen restaurants and bars had opened and six had closed. In the month of May, a staggering 28 spots debuted and fifteen others shuttered — including some longtime favorites like To the Wind on East Colfax, Blue Ocean/Little Chengdu in the Tech Center and Golden Europe in Arvada.
The increase in eateries calling it quits shows no signs of slowing. While it may look like business as usual at many hospitality establishments, owner burnout combined with the continued challenges of supply-chain issues and staffing shortages has many ready to say goodbye. Ahead of To the Wind's May 28 closing, owner Royce Oliveira told Westword that owning his small eatery simply wasn't fun anymore — and that he had no plans to get back into the restaurant business after navigating the last two and a half years.
Even without the problems caused by the pandemic, owning a restaurant comes with obstacles that can be insurmountable. For example, Blue Ocean/Little Chengdu, where chef/owner Jack Ning made hard-to-find Szechuan specialties like hand-pulled noodles, was forced to close because its shopping-center location was bought by a developer.
But while many of the closures in May hit hard, it was encouraging to see so many openings — especially since the vast majority are locally owned establishments. Pit Fiend rose from the ashes of Owlbear to bring barbecue back to Larimer Street. Denver's fastest-growing hospitality group, Handsome Boys, opened Casey Jones, aTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed pizza joint on Broadway. And a trio of friends and business partners introduced Sky Bar, an adults-only destination for cocktails inside Stanley Marketplace.
From bakeries and boba to tacos and Thai, new options abound right now.
Here's the complete list of restaurants and bars that opened and closed in May:
12 Spirits Tavern, 420 East 11th Avenue
Blazing Bird, 13700 East Colfax Avenue, Aurora
Bodega by Fresh Thymes, 2500 30th Street, Boulder
Capriotti's Sandwich Shop, 5715 Atrium Drive, Castle Rock
Casey Jones, 24 Broadway
Coriander, 14799 West Sixth Avenue Frontage Road, Golden
Devil & Angel Desserts, 2727 South Parker Road, Aurora
Eternal Flavors Bakery, 5600 West Dartmouth Avenue
Funky Flame, 4358 Zuni Street
Field and Forest, 415 South Cherokee Street
Front Range Inn, 7779 Morrison Road, Lakewood
Greenwood Village Sushi Co., 6575 Greenwood Plaza Boulevard, Greenwood Village
Jack's on Pearl, 1475 South Pearl Street
January Coffee, 1886 30th Street, Boulder
Lotus Flower Bakery, 333 South Federal Boulevard
One Shot Back, 2134 Curtis Street
Oscar's Eats, 2630 West 38th Avenue
Pato's Tacos, 5038 East Colfax Avenue
Pit Fiend, 2826 Larimer Street
Pure Green, 681 East Louisiana Avenue
Raising Cane's, 5060 South Wadsworth Boulevard, Lakewood
Sky Bar, 2501 Dallas Street, Aurora
Snowl Cafe, 5610 South Parker Road, Aurora
Soi Kowboi at Gold Point, 3126 Larimer Street
Terra, 891 14th Street
Thai Lanna, 535 16th Street Mall
Velvet Elk Lounge, 2037 13th Street, Boulder
Wild Taco, 215 East Seventh Avenue
Acres, 3999 South Broadway
Ale House, 2501 16th Street
Allegro Coffee Roasters, 4040 Tennyson Street
Blue Ocean/Little Chengdu, 8101 East Belleview Avenue
Citron Bistro, 3535 South Yosemite Street
Dirty Pit Craft House, 51 West Dry Creek Court, Littleton
Freshcraft, 1530 Blake Street
Golden Europe, 6620 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada
Ivy on 7th, 410 East Seventh Avenue
Kuma's Corner, 3500 Delgany Street
Nelly's Kitchen, 3743 Federal Boulevard
Right Coast Pizza, 7100 West 38th Avenue, Wheat Ridge
Smokin' Dave's BBQ & Brew, 7685 East Arapahoe Road, Centennial
Tazu Sushi and Asian Cuisine, 300 Fillmore Street
To the Wind, 3333 East Colfax Avenue
*Or earlier and not previously reported.
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