On Monday, January 3, the parking lot was empty at Breakfast King at 1100 South Santa Fe Drive. Though a sign on the door reads "We are temporarily closed," the Colorado Sun reports
that the shuttering is permanent.
While the vintage orange booths were set as if ready for service on Monday, by this morning, the blinds had been pulled down. Alongside the sign announcing the temporary closure is another that reads: "We are short staffed. Please be patient with the staff that did show up. No one wants to work anymore." Staffing shortages are the norm in the hospitality industry these days, but calling it out on the front door of a business is not.
Despite its recent challenges, Breakfast King has long been a beloved institution in Denver. Open since 1975, it was one of the city's few remaining 24/7 diners — though when it reopened after the March 2020 shutdown, business hours had changed, with the doors open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. (at the latest).
In 2003, Westword
named Breakfast King the Best Place to Feel Like an Unpaid Extra in a Tarantino Film.
In 2009, the diner was chosen as one of the Best Breakfasts in America by Esquire
. It was Westword
's pick for "Best 24/7 Diner" in 2019 — a category that has since become dominated solely by chains
, since only chains have reopened as 24/7 spots.
Whether you went for the stellar chicken-fried steak, the Breakfast King's take on the unique Toro Pot
, or a late-night conversation over a hot cup of coffee, the diner held a classic appeal that's becoming harder and harder to find in the city.
Since March 2020, Denver has lost the 20th Street Cafe (not a 24/7 eatery, but definitely a diner), Tom's Diner (which was going anyway, but had hoped for a last hurrah of a few months) and the Denver Diner, whose owners promised that they were looking for another location.
Hey, we know a spot at Santa Fe and Mississippi Avenue that might be available!
The tables at Breakfast King were set inside the empty restaurant on January 3.