There's been a lot of action at Benny's Restaurant & Cantina lately.
Owner Benny Armas, a legendary Denver cook who got his start at Whiskey Bill's four decades ago, then moved on to the Oak Alley Inn (the current home of Hanson's) and the Lancer Lounge, finally opened his own place at 225 East Seventh Avenue in 1987. That worked out so well that when the Chef Henry space on the corner became available, Armas moved his restaurant to its current location at 301 East Seventh Avenue.
Over the past two decades, he's made some changes to the menu (the free chips and salsa remain a crowd favorite, however) as well as the space, adding a patio, remodeling the bathrooms and updating the bar. Late last year, he embarked on a bigger project, moving the main entrance from Seventh Avenue to the corner and expanding the counter in the center of the building, in preparation for adding a more official to-go business.
The restaurant kept serving through the construction work...but now that's come to a temporary halt.
This note appeared on Benny's Facebook page on April 24:
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To all our Loyal Customers,
Benny’s will be closed today April 24th until May 3rd, and will re-open on Saturday, May 4th. We are sorry for any inconvenience and we hope you all join us in celebration of Cinco de Mayo!????
Fans were quick to pour out their disappointment. But the temporary closure wasn't to accommodate the remodeling project, although that could be a silver lining in a dark cloud.
A note in front of Benny's, by the original entrance, announces that the "alcohol beverage and retail food establishment licenses issued for these premises have been suspended by order of the local licensing authority."
Since the suspension is slated to be lifted by the end of the week, Benny's should be back in business by May 4, just in time to start serving (responsibly) those powerful margaritas to Cinco de Mayo celebrants.