On January 2, we posted our annual Restaurant Roll Call, a compendium of all the restaurant and bar openings and closings over the past year. More than 300 places opened in 2019, and while a few closed almost as quickly as they opened, the roster of new options on the Denver dining scene is impressive.
But sadly, so is the long list of closures, which included such favorites as Colt & Gray, the Wooden Table and the Populist. And that list could get longer in 2020, with restaurant owners facing increased property taxes (or rising rent) as well as a higher minimum wage in Denver that comes into conflict with the state-mandated tip credit, heightening the division between front- and back-of-the-house staff.
Some restaurateurs are giving up, some are fighting on...and many will be raising prices.
The list of restaurants that have closed says a lot about how Denver is changing. And it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
As a restaurateur, I don't think people have any idea how small our margin is. We now have to pay more for space and labor; are Denver diners willing to pay more for our food and service?
Wait until 2022, when minimum wage is almost $16 an hour.. Colorado will go bankrupt and go out of business.
Sad for us small, family-owned restaurants.
The sentiment that some folks have to work for a wage they can’t live on while small business owners love their middle- to upper-middle-class lives comfortably. Pay a living wage or go out of business.
And Carissa concludes:
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Don't forget to support your favorites so they don't get added to the list of closings!
One of the big changes on the dining scene was the appearance of many more new food halls, most of which come with new bars. The Denver area also saw many more eateries serving international cuisine.
Chicken and barbecue both hit it big this year, too. And while Bayou Bob's closed after decades, Cajun cooking lives on thanks to a big new Sassafras on West 32nd Avenue and newcomer Magnolia on South Broadway. Denver also got several new vegan options.
What new restaurants were you glad to see? What places were you sorry to lose? Post a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org. And see our full list of openings and closings here.