Openings and Closings

Ten Prime Restaurant Spaces That Are Still Vacant

Black Eye closed its Capitol Hill coffeehouse in October.
Black Eye closed its Capitol Hill coffeehouse in October. Westword
More than 250 restaurants and bars opened in metro Denver last year, some of them taking over vacancies caused by the closures of other establishments. But empty dining rooms and dark kitchens with stoves gone cold still dot the culinary landscape of the city, serving as a reminder that the food-service business is a tough one and that hard times can come at almost any time. Here are ten closed establishments still looking for new tenants.

2449 Larimer Street

There weren’t very many restaurant options on Larimer Street when Americatus opened more than five years ago; in fact, Denver’s snarky set was just beginning to show its annoyance for the RiNo moniker that was starting to give the neighborhood a new persona. The restaurant showed a dedication to handmade pasta and sausage up to the very end when it closed last June, despite the growing competition. A new restaurant — or even a bar — will have to be exceptional to stand out among its neighbors, with Super Mega Bien and Death & Co. moving into the new Ramble Hotel across the street this spring.

click to enlarge Black Eye customers can head to LoHi. - WESTWORD
Black Eye customers can head to LoHi.
Black Eye Coffee Capitol Hill
800 Sherman Street

There’s a quiet zone in the Capitol Hill neighborhood north of Governor’s Park and the restaurants packed in around Seventh Avenue and Grant Street. Black Eye’s second location seemed like the perfect place for a coffee shop for neighbors, pedestrians and even commuters coming into downtown (if they could find a parking spot). The young and hip certainly filled the bar stools and plush booths at the two-year-old joint before it closed in October, but were they spending money or just whiling away the time on their mobile devices? Dinner at alter ego White Lies never really caught on, but the neighborhood is still in need of a casual hangout for a good cup of joe and inexpensive eats.

Brik on York
2223 East Colfax Avenue

A wood-fired pizza place with a well-rounded wine list and local live music seemed like a perfect fit for the eclectic stretch of East Colfax Avenue where Brik on York opened in July 2015. But things didn’t work out in the space that had once housed a watch repair shop and a matinee movie theater. Still, Colfax is booming, and neighbors like the Three Lions and Tacos Tequila Whiskey have shown staying power, so the block isn’t exactly a dead zone.

Chow Urban Grill
3570 East Colfax Avenue

Not too much farther east on Colfax from Brik on York, Chow Urban Grill moved into a renovated former garage called the Galaxie building that drew enough attention to win a Mayor’s Design Award in 2016. But a splashy facade was not enough to save the restaurant, and it closed in August after little more than a year in business. With the Humble Pie Store next door and Cerebral Brewing right behind it on Monroe Street, there’s still a niche there for a quality eatery to complement beer and pie.

112 East Eighth Avenue

Moving into the space previously occupied by a neighborhood restaurant for nearly 35 years is no easy task, but that’s what Clyde faced when it opened in 2016 after Le Central French Bistro closed there the previous year. The owners of Clyde did a good job of renovating the sprawling restaurant space with its many nooks and crannies, but Le Central fans were still in mourning, and nothing else would do in the space. Time heals all wounds, though, and perhaps someplace new can make a go of it — if the ghosts of a thousand French lobsters don’t drive away the business.

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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation