St. Patrick's Day came and went without our traditional corned beef and cabbage meal at the Cherry Cricket. The iconic Cherry Creek burger joint has been closed since a fire broke out in the kitchen last Thanksgiving eve. But now repairs are close to complete, and the Cricket is slated to reopen at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 11.
When it does, the 71-year-old Cricket will have a new kitchen and an entirely new infrastructure, "but we've kept everything else exactly the same," says Lee Driscoll, co-owner of the company that bought the Cherry Cricket in 2000. Well, not entirely the same: a formerly green wall has been painted red, and then there are those bathrooms....
“Despite being cleaned up and brought back to its original state, the Cricket will remain the ‘black sheep’ of Cherry Creek North," Driscoll explains. "We didn’t let any fancy restaurant designers anywhere near it, but we did spruce up the restrooms, which we don’t imagine anyone will complain about.”
As thanks to the Denver firefighters who helped save the Cricket, the restaurant has created a special Fire Belly Burger — a half-pound Cricket burger with strawberry-habanero cream cheese, fried onions and grilled jalapeños topped with pork belly and served on a sesame Kaiser bun — and $1 from every Fire Belly burger sold in April will go to to the city's firehouses.
And firefighters aren't the only people who helped out; despite heavy workloads, various city departments helped keep permitting and plan approval on track. "They've got smart people working really hard," Driscoll says. "Denver's on fire."
As was the Cricket.
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To celebrate the reopening, the Cherry Cricket has a week of special events planned, starting with complimentary cake and champagne ("cheap sparkling wine," the restaurant admits) all day on April 11. On April 12, the Cricket will host a benefit for Metro Caring; anyone who brings in at least three cans of food will get a free basket of fries; the firefighters who helped save the Cricket will also be on hand. But our favorite event may be the April 13 commemoration of "the three brave fish who lost their lives in the fire": At 5 p.m., the Cricket will hold a funeral complete with bagpipes and dancers.
It's not quite St. Patrick's Day, but close enough.
The reopening of the Cricket gives the owners time to push the transformation of Breck on Blake, at 2200 Blake Street, to next spring; they plan to turn it into some kind of a Cricket. "We don't want to do a cookie-cutter," Driscoll explains. "We want to get it right."
As they did with the restoration of the original Cherry Cricket. Starting April 11 (barring any disasters), the Cricket will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week; the kitchen will be serving until midnight, and happy hour will run from 3 to 6 p.m. and from 10 p.m. until close daily. For more information, go to cherrycricket.com.