Denver Restaurants Continue to Close Because of Coronavirus Restrictions | Westword

Closings Both Big and Small Continue Across the City

Butcher's Bistro, Marrakech Grill and the Bent Fork are among the latest losses.
This is how Butcher's Bistro looked when it opened in 2014.
This is how Butcher's Bistro looked when it opened in 2014. Mark Antonation
Share this:
The many fans of Racines were devastated to learn last week that owners Lee Goodfriend and David Racine would not be reopening their Governor's Park neighborhood eatery after all, and so there would be no chance to have a long, slow goodbye before the originally promised closing date of January 2021, when their deal to sell the property goes through. But Goodfriend and Racine are only two of many restaurant owners facing the "sad, sad, sad" situation, as Racine put it, of closing up shop because of the potential health risks of reopening.

And in many other cases, the decision not to reopen — or to shut down after reopening — is prompted not just by health concerns, but by tough economic realities.

All over town, seemingly stable eateries have thrown in the towel because the option of operating at 50 percent capacity indefinitely (or at least until a vaccine is produced), or shifting business models to something unsustainable (such as paying exorbitant third-party delivery fees) just didn't make sense. Breaking even was a tough enough proposition for restaurants facing high rent and rising food and payroll costs before the pandemic, but now it has become nearly impossible in the short term.

Among the recent announcements was one from Butcher's Bistro on its website: "We have closed our doors permanently. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for the love and support you've shown over the last 6 years." Butcher's Bistro was founded by Scott Bauer and Tyson Holzheimer, who took over the former home of Jeff Osaka's Twelve at 2233 Larimer Street six years ago. (The followup to Twelve, 12@Madison in Congress Park, also closed in the wake of the pandemic.) Butcher's Bistro specialized in whole-animal cooking, so each night brought a different variety of steak, chops, roasts and other cuts. "Denver. We love you," the owner added on the bistro's Facebook page. "And yes, we'll meat again."
Butcher's Bistro was small to begin with, but coronavirus restrictions made the bar and half the tables off limits.
Danielle Lirette
In Aurora, the Bent Fork American Grill shuttered after seventeen years at 12191 East Iliff Avenue. The restaurant had limped along with curbside pick-up and delivery through June, but never fully reopened. And then on July 14, the eatery stated that "given the financial uncertainty...of running a restaurant in the age of coronavirus, particularly with our limited seating and no patio, we've sadly concluded it's impractical for us to continue operations here in Aurora." Fortunately for regulars, there's a second Bent Fork, even if it's an hour drive north, in Loveland.

Also in Aurora, El Jaripeo, at 1050 South Havana Street, won't be back. The Mexican restaurant and sports bar had just opened in late 2018 but was unable to hold on through the mandated restaurant closing period from March 17 to May 27.

And at 2290 South Colorado Boulevard, the dining room of Marrakech Grill is empty of furnishings, and there's a for-lease sign in the window. For more than a dozen years, the Lebanese/Persian restaurant had added its distinct flavors on a stretch of Colorado Boulevard known for Middle Eastern cuisine.

But despite the difficult times, new options continue to pop up. Coming soon: Brasserie Brixton at 3701 Williams Street, which is slated to open on July 28.

Do you know of any other openings and closings? We run an update every Saturday; in the meantime, send information to [email protected].
Can you help us continue to share our stories? Since the beginning, Westword has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver — and we'd like to keep it that way. Our members allow us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls.