Word of Mouth

Zaidy's Downtown Deli reaches the end of the line

Zaidy's Downtown Deli/ Fusion Cantina has closed -- officially.

The final blow came on September 16, at a bizarre liquor license hearing on Zaidy's application to change to a cabaret license, which would have allowed the restaurant to host salsa nights and dancing. The application was dismissed, in part because the hearing officer decided that the people who showed up on behalf of Zaidy's had no legal right to represent the restaurant. Those people were partners who'd been brought in earlier this year to help with the six-year-old Zaidy's transformation from a deli during the day to Zaidy's Fusion Grill at night, with a menu of small plates and a roster of entertainment to attract the crowds heading into LoDo.

But Jason Rudofsky, an owner of both the downtown Zaidy's and the original in Cherry Creek, downplayed the hearing's role in the decision to close the restaurant in Writer Square.

While the cabaret license would have helped the place attract customers at night, the dual concept was also designed to attract potential buyers. "We wanted to sell it and it would have been too difficult to do so as a deli alone," Rudofsky explains. "Downtown is about selling drinks."

But Zaidy's Fusion Grill also attracted some unwelcome attention: Members of the Writer Square Condominium Association were concerned about experiments with salsa nights, and Zaidy's got a letter in July from the Department of Excise and Licenses, ordering the restaurant to cease its night-time entertainment until a cabaret license was obtained.

"Our relationship with the association has never been a good one," Rudofsky says, pointing out that the association negated a "beautiful" neon sign that was proposed by the new owners of Writer Square. Members of the association "want Writer Square the way it used to be."

Rather than continue to fight, Rudofsky decided to sever the relationship with the partners who'd approached him about the downtown location and closed that location. "The only way to make Writer Square more of a destination spot is to work with the tenants to ensure these operators on the bottom floor can get some things done without constantly looking over their shoulders," he notes.

Rudofsky is now trying to convince someone else to take over the Writer Square space, which still has its original liquor license. And in the meantime, he's concentrating his energy on the original Zaidy's at 121 Adams Street, which his father founded. "I see all my customers from the downtown location in Cherry Creek and they are very understanding of the situation," he says. "I am happy knowing here in Cherry Creek we have been doing great for eighteen years and I can do a much better job catering at our Cherry Creek location."