Reader: The 20th Street Cafe Was Another Denver Treasure

Reader: The 20th Street Cafe Was Another Denver Treasure
Danielle Lirette
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Sadly, you won't be eating the breakfast burrito shown above this morning...or ever again. That's because the 20th Street Cafe, a 74-year-old institution at 1123 20th Street, announced last week that it would not be reopening after the restaurant closure order is lifted in Denver.

Owners Rodney and Karen Okuno, who'd been running the restaurant founded by Rodney's parents in 1946, were planning on retiring sometime soon, but the pandemic hastened their decision. On April 22, they shared the news on the 20th Street Cafe Facebook page: "We thought we had a few years left before retiring, but with all that has happened in the world and the economy, we decided that trying to reopen after the pandemic and trying to make a realistic go of it would be impossible."

And then they concluded with this: "As the song goes 'So long, it's been good to know you.'"

The 20th Street Cafe won't reopen.
The 20th Street Cafe won't reopen.
Danielle Lirette

Fans of the restaurant are singing a very sad song in response. Says Christine:

So sad. The food was always terrific and the staff so friendly. It will be missed.

Adds Lisa:

 Another Denver treasure.

Comments Steve: 

 Great greasy spoon. You will be missed.

Recalls Chris:

Best place ever. My grandparents were friends of the original owners. I’ve been eating there since the '70s.  Good luck in retirement. 

Suggests Chris:

 A shame. Even though it isn't in the movie, this place always reminded me of Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead.

Concludes Murray: 

Cost of doing business in Denver has become cost-prohibitive for most casual dining business models. Coronavirus was just the final nail in the coffin. Sadly, many, many more closings are coming. 

According to a recent Colorado Restaurant Association survey, 25 percent of its members might close for good if restaurants are not allowed to reopen before the end of May.

So far, though, just a few owners have announced that they're taking that route. Euclid Hall, whose lease was up, decided not to reopen in that spot. Around the corner in Larimer Square, the Market — a four-decade-old institution, albeit three decades shy of the 20th Street Cafe's mark — will also remain shuttered. Like the Okunos, Market owner Mark Greenberg is retiring.

What do you think of the closings? Post a comment or email your thoughts to cafe@westword.com. And if you never ate at the 20th Street Cafe, get a taste of what you missed in this review by Gretchen Kurtz.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.