Since the beginning of 2017, our restaurant critic, Gretchen Kurtz, has reviewed fifteen restaurants, including, this week, Cattivella, at 10195 East 29th Avenue in Stapleton. Of her review subjects, four are now closed. The latest is Clyde, the wine-centered eatery that took over the venerable Le Central space at 112 East Eighth Avenue last fall.
Clyde was initially ambitious, hoping to add breakfast pastries and coffee to its wine bar, dining room and design shop that sold home and kitchen furnishings from a side room. But the kitchen is now closed, and a note on the restaurant's Facebook page indicates a close-out sale for the design shop:
Hi friends. I'm at Clyde tomorrow selling off the stuff in the store cheap. Even cheaper if you bring cash. You can drink all the open wine if you are over 21. 4 p.m. on.
Of the other closings, Zengo was the first to go, going dark less than a year after a full menu and interior-decor overhaul. Then followed Stella's on 16th, which lasted only seven months in a brand-new building at 1550 Wewatta Street.
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The same weekend that Stella's closed, the Way Back served its last dinner at 4132 West 38th Avenue; it promises to return in a new location on Tennyson Street in several months. Meanwhile, the ownership group is launching its new project, Wayward, this week — coincidentally, in Zengo's vacated space.
Did these restaurants succumb to the curse of the Westword restaurant review? No need to invoke superstition to explain why businesses fail: The fact is, operating a restaurant is hard work, especially in a time when there's more competition for customer dollars than ever before and a labor shortage makes building a talented and loyal staff a tricky proposition.
A look up Lincoln Street from Clyde's sidewalk patio gives a view of a virtual graveyard of restaurants, with large venues that previously held Opal and Dazzle sitting vacant and smaller shops that once held the likes of the RT Cafe and Attivo Libre still going unclaimed months after their last hot meals were served.
There's big money — real estate money — being funneled into lavish new launches in boutique hotels and mushrooming mixed-use developments. So going into business with big dreams and a small bank account seems like an iffy formula these days, when only a few years ago, hopeful chefs and restaurateurs could make a go of it with little more than a stack of beetle-kill pine and some clever recipes.