Argyll, a restaurant that we have loved, stalked and ballyhooed since it opened in Cherry Creek in 2009 -- it was our Best New Restaurant pick in the 2010 Best of Denver -- has, for quite a while, been one of the only reasons to actually make the trek to a relatively lethargic 'hood that was once one of Denver's most vibrant dining-out enclaves.
But over the past few years, Cherry Creek North has lost much of its luster; it's a neighborhood that's gone sluggish, where the streets are all but desolate by 10 p.m., and vodka martinis -- not craft beers or cocktails -- are still the drink du jour. Spaces like the original Chinook Tavern (it's since reopened in the Tech Center) and Prime 121 have both sat vacant for more than three years; the dormant Tambien hasn't found a tenant, either.
And Robert Thompson, who owns Argyll, the subterranean gastropub at 2700 East Third Avenue, isn't particularly thrilled with the dynamics of the neighborhood -- so he's closing Argyll immediately after brunch service on Sunday.
But before your eyes pop out of their sockets, take solace: He's got two more restaurants on the horizon -- Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar, which will open in the Baur's Ristorante space at 1512 Curtis Street at the end of August, and Punch Bowl/Social Food and Drink, which will open in the Baker District in mid-November.
And that's not all: He plans to relocate Argyll to the Baker District, just a few blocks from Punch Bowl, where it will open at an undisclosed address in April or May of 2012. "I do not believe in Cherry Creek as a dining neighborhood, and it's definitely not a neighborhood that Argyll speaks to, so I'm taking Argyll to the Baker neighborhood, which is a neighborhood that does speak to us," explains Thompson. Diners in Cherry Creek, he continues, "would rather go to Houston's three nights a week -- they think it's consistent -- than go to Argyll for creativity and unique quality."
Argyll, he admits, isn't for everyone. But Thompson says that he -- and his staff -- "refuse to work this hard for average results." And, he adds, he's sick and tired of reading online reviews from the masses panning his location: "There are so many reviews, both on Opentable and on Yelp, that start with people saying that they finally made it to Argyll after they heard so many good things about us -- even though it's in Cherry Creek." Argyll's customers, notes Thompson, "don't want to come to Cherry Creek, so we're going to them."
The new buildout, erected on a 6,000-square-foot-plus parcel of land, will be two-tiered and have a large courtyard, and the mixology program, promises Thompson, will rival anything we've seen in Denver. "This is going to be a much boozier Argyll, and we're definitely taking the mixology program to a much higher level, and that includes bringing in a corporate mixologist who's local and incredibly talented," Thompson tells me.
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As for Argyll's kitchen creations, not much will change there. "The menu will stay the same in spirit -- but it's always evolving," he says. "Essentially, it's going to be the same Argyll, just with an enhanced mixology program, an amazing courtyard and a different address."
Thompson informed his employees of the change earlier this week, and he's offered all of them -- every single one -- jobs at Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar. "If they want it, they've all been asked to join the team there," he says.
In the meantime, if you're like us and want to get one last Argyll fix before it goes dark, you'd better get there soon.