Music News

The Mercury Cafe Is for Sale...but Don't Panic

The Mercury Cafe will soon be changing owners.
The Mercury Cafe will soon be changing owners. Brandon Marshall
The Mercury Cafe, an iconic Denver cultural landmark that for decades has been a hub for healthy, local food, progressive activism and music and art of all kinds, is for sale, owner Marilyn Megenity confirmed on Facebook.

The 9,870-square-foot venue at 2195-2199 California Street is listed on LoopNet at $2,000,000. That's a bargain for the dirt alone, but it comes with an incredible legacy, one that isn't done justice by the real estate listing.

LoopNet sums up the property as follows: "2195 California St. is home to the iconic Mercury Cafe, a beloved restaurant, bar and performing arts venue in Downtown Denver’s Arapahoe Square neighborhood. This free-standing brick building has solar panels, high barrel ceilings, as well as unique interior fixtures and finishes. The property enjoys favorable zoning, is located near light rail, and is within an area that is undergoing significant redevelopment. This is an excellent opportunity for a Mercury Cafe successor, other owner/user, investor or developer and the seller will entertain a variety of outcomes."

Emphasis on "Mercury Cafe successor," says Megenity, who's seventy and wants to ensure that her brainchild lives on.

"Don't worry, don't worry," she says. "The Mercury Cafe is not going anywhere. I am committed to steward the Mercury into a sustainable future with all our many communities intact. I'm looking for a group buyer that knows how to take care of a restaurant and loves and respects the culture that is the Mercury Cafe and will allow me to continue to be involved. The Mercury is strong because of your love and support. I look forward to making more memories with you."

The news broke weeks after Denver artists including Nathaniel Rateliff, Tom Hagerman of DeVotchKa, Professor Phelyx and Wesley Schultz of the Lumineers all participated in a Valentine's Day fundraiser to support the space, which has struggled to survive through COVID-19 regulations. 

When the restaurant and venue has been open during the pandemic, Megenity has spent the time hosting Black Lives Matter fundraisers, trying to keep staff and musicians employed, and ensuring the organic, largely locally sourced food she dishes up is still available for patrons.
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Mercury Cafe will sell to buyers who plan to keep the business alive.
Brandon Marshall
No doubt it's been a tough year for anybody in the music and entertainment business, and even if Megenity sells the Mercury Cafe to someone who'll maintain its cultural role in the community, she's going to be missed.

"I feel like Marilyn, she’s really the patron saint of all of us artists and musicians and sort of marginalized folk, a lot of left-leaning progressive folk," Hagerman told Westword last month. "She really embraces anybody to come in and have a gathering space and a place to share ideas and to produce their artwork. The place is just so legendary."

If Megenity has her way, that legend will stay alive for decades to come.

We've reached out to Marilyn Megenity; watch for updates.
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris