Reader: Change Is a Necessary Part of the Restaurant Business

The Paramount Cafe has closed after over thirty years.
The Paramount Cafe has closed after over thirty years.
Danielle Lirette
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Some longtime Denver restaurants are closing. The Old Spaghetti Factory closes its doors at the end of service September 16, but at least gave its fans warning. Two weeks ago, the Paramount Cafe shuttered without warning...after thirty years as a mainstay on the 16th Street Mall.

The Paramount Cafe was locally owned (the other three restaurants in the group will close as their leases expire later this year). Its disappearance made readers wonder if Denver, and the mall in particular, will lose "regional flavor."

Says DS: 

Lots of chains, just another mall. There's a version of it in any city or town you go to. You could go a bit further down to Union Station for better options, more local.

Suggests Erik: 

Chili's, man...go to Chili's.

Ryan dives deeper into the issue: 

As someone who has lived in Colorado since '99, I've seen my fair share of change in the city and throughout the region. As someone who works in Human Resources, I understand that change can be hard for people. As someone who used to work in the restaurant industry, I recognize that change is a fundamental and structurally necessary part of the business.

To posit that "there won't be any regional flavor left" is to grossly overestimate the impact of individual establishments on "regional cuisine" and to misunderstand the concept entirely. For every closing that has occurred, there are numerous of examples of long-lived and successful establishments that continue to thrive amidst the growth and change in Denver.

The 16th Street Mall has been plagued with issues for years and, as a Denver resident, is the LAST place I would choose to go to dinner and indulge in a Rocky Mountain regional experience. Why is the eventual closing of a long-time establishment cause for a Paul Revere ride declaring the end of all things Denver? Cities evolve, and restaurants that can keep up with the evolution, help define it, survive.

I still frequent places like the Cherry Tomato, Pete's Kitchen, the Cherry Cricket (original), the Buckhorn Exchange (visiting fam favorite), Racines and occasionally Potager, for an annual treat. Now that I sit down and think of it, I'm fairly certain that New Saigon isn't all that new (1987, according to Google). These are just a few examples of the ability for the culinary landscape in a city to change and grow while also maintaining some consistency across the decades.

I understand the sadness inherent in seeing an "old standby" of yesteryear die. We ought to pay our respects, celebrate our memories there, mourn the loss, and work on the business of moving onward. We should also take the time to consider that the kitchen staff, FOH staff, bartenders and, yes, customers, will go on to pollenate other Denver establishments with their unique experiences. To take such a natural process of precession and argue that the entire city has lost both its soul and its mind is short-sighted at best, and fear-mongering at worst.

In a city growing and evolving at the pace of Denver, we each have a seat at the table — yes, even the hipsters. We each also have a responsibility to support the establishments and communities that we love and are a part of, with our efforts as much or more than our wallets. We should get to know our neighbors, the ones of fifty years and the ones who are moving in this weekend, new to Denver and all she has to offer. We should celebrate all that progress promises to bring to Denver, and to our children, while cherishing the memories that form our collective past. 

And then there's this from Joe: 

Another closing. Boring. Give us new news.

Keep reading for more of our coverage of restaurant openings and, yes, closings.

Reader: Change Is a Necessary Part of the Restaurant Business
Kristin Pazulski

"Reader: More Closings? There Won't Be Any Regional Flavor Left!"

Reader: Change Is a Necessary Part of the Restaurant Business
Danielle Lirette

"Old Spaghetti Factory Is Closing After 45 Years Downtown"

Reader: Change Is a Necessary Part of the Restaurant Business
Sarah McGill

"Phil's Place Issues Last Call"

The Paramount Cafe wasn't really known for the "regional flavor" of its cuisine, just its homegrown ambience. The same isn't true of Phil's Place, a down-home joint that opened in RiNo before it was even named RiNo.

Phil Garcia, who bought a bar that had been operating as Our Place in 2002, created a kitchen there for his mother, Junie, who'd gained a strong following when she was cooking Mexican food at the Bamboo Hut, ten blocks down Larimer Street. Junie and her husband bought out Phil a few years later.

Now they've sold their place and will enjoy a well-earned retirement; Phil's Place will close with a big bash on October 7.

Is the closing of Phil's Place news that we should report? What kind of restaurant stories would you like to see more? Which should be sent back to the kitchen? Post a comment or email cafe@westword.com.

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