Eight Months Since the Pandemic Hit, Here's the Toll on Restaurants

Vesta closed after more than twenty years in LoDo.
Vesta closed after more than twenty years in LoDo.
Courtesy of Josh Wolkon
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Today, November 17, marks eight months to the day when Governor Jared Polis's executive order closing restaurant dining rooms took effect. Bars and eateries limped through the next two months with takeout and delivery (aided by the addition of to-go liquor), and were eventually allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity on May 26.

But back on March 17, the blow to revenue was immediate. Most food and drink establishments laid off large portions of their staff, slowly bringing back employees as federal PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans kicked in and customers began returning once dining rooms opened (at 50 percent capacity or fifty patrons, whichever was less) and restaurants expanded their patio options.

But with colder weather and an upsurge in COVID-19 cases, restrictions tightened once again; dining room capacity was lowered to 25 percent on October 27 for at least thirty days, and in Denver, Mayor Michael Hancock announced a 10 p.m. curfew that was peddled as a "Home by 10" order on November 6.

That wasn't enough to bring down the COVID numbers, though.

On the eight-month anniversary of the first shutdown, Polis announced a new level of restrictions that multiple counties, Denver included, are expected to move to on November 20. While he isn't calling it a shutdown, those restrictions include the closing of dining rooms. Outdoor dining will be allowed, but with no more than one household per party; takeout and delivery can also continue. But last call will be at 8 p.m.

Even before this not-quite-a-lockdown hit, the pandemic and subsequent revenue losses had taken quite a toll on Denver's restaurant scene.

Racines was already more than twenty years old when it built a new restaurant — fourteen years ago.EXPAND
Racines was already more than twenty years old when it built a new restaurant — fourteen years ago.

During the pandemic, the Colorado Restaurant Association has been conducting regular surveys of its member restaurants, who report that sustaining their operations is becoming more and more difficult. As of November 12, 91 percent of restaurants reported that sales were down by an average of 40 percent for summer 2020, compared to summer 2019. And 45 percent of them reported that they would have to consider closing in less than three months if the current 25 percent capacity restrictions continue. That number goes up to 50 percent if dining rooms are shut down again.

Which many will on November 20.

The downturn has affected restaurant workers, many of whom remain unemployed; 78 percent of restaurants reported that their staffs are smaller than at this time last year.

So is the number of restaurants in metro Denver. A number of eateries never reopened after the March shutdown (some owners decided the time was right to retire a concept, or maybe themselves); others opened and then closed when the realities of running a restaurant during a pandemic just grew too challenging.

Here's our list of all the locations that have shuttered since March (names in bold were on our December 2019 Eat Here list of 100 essential Denver restaurants):

Biju's Little Curry Shop closed in April.EXPAND
Biju's Little Curry Shop closed in April.
Mark Antonation

3 Kings Tavern, 60 South Broadway
12@Madison, 1160 Madison Street
20th Street Cafe, 1123 20th Street
Acorn, 3350 Brighton Boulevard
Alternation Brewing, 1539 South Broadway
American Cultures Kombucha Taproom, 3233 Tejon Street
Arada Ethiopian Restaurant, 750 Santa Fe Drive
Armida's, 840 Lincoln Street
Bar Helix, 3490 Larimer Street
Bent Fork American Grill,12191 East Iliff Avenue, Aurora
Biju's Little Curry Shop, 4279 Tennyson Street
Bistro Colorado, 675 South Broadway
Blue Pebble, 698 Santa Fe Drive
Board Game Republic, 900 West First Avenue
Brasserie Ten Ten, 1011 Walnut Street, Boulder
Bru Handbuilt Ales + Eats, 5290 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder
Buchi Cafe Cubano, 2651 West 38th Avenue
The Budlong Hot Chicken and Hamburger Stan (inside Zeppelin Station), 3501 Wazee Street
Butcher's Bistro, 2233 Larimer Street
C&C Coffee & Kitchen, 4284 Trail Boss Drive, Castle Rock
C.B. & Potts, four Colorado locations
The Cereal Box, 5709 Olde Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada
Chuy Fu's Baja Cantina, 2100 16th Street
Cinna Box, 2145 East 120th Avenue
Common Grounds Coffeehouse, 2139 West 44th Avenue
Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill, 7450 West 52nd Avenue, Arvada, and 9135 East Northfield Boulevard
Daz Bog, 501 West 12th Avenue
Dunbar Kitchen & Tap House, 2844 Welton Street
El Jaripeo, 1050 South Havana Street, Aurora
Euclid Hall, 1317 14th Street
Fooducopia, 1939 East Kentucky Avenue
Four Barrel Bar & BBQ, 7702 Ralston Road, Arvada
Fresh Fish Company, 7800 East Hampden Avenue
Frijoles Colorado Cuban Cafe, 12095 West Alameda Avenue, Lakewood
Gallop Cafe, 2401 West 32nd Avenue
Good River Beer Co. Taproom, 918 West First Avenue
Gozo, 30 South Broadway
Great Northern Tavern, 8101 East Belleview Avenue
Hidden Idol, 2240 Clay Street
Hi Tide Poke, 2449 Larimer Street
Jason's Deli, 702 16th Street
La Cour, 1643 South Broadway
Lacuna Juice & Yoga, 2590 Lawrence Street
Landry's Seafood House, 7209 South Clinton Street, Englewood
Leña, 24 Broadway
Liberati Restaurant & Brewery, 2403 Champa Street
Local 46, 4586 Tennyson Street
Magnolia Cajun Dining, 1446 South Broadway
The Market, 1445 Larimer Street
Marrakech Grill, 2290 South Colorado Boulevard
Meadowlark Kitchen, 2705 Larimer Street
The Med, 1002 Walnut Street, Boulder
Mici Handcrafted Italian (downtown location only), 1531 Stout Street
Milo's Sports Tavern, 6495 East Evans Avenue
Moe's Original BBQ (Denver location only), 530 Broadway
Morton's the Steakhouse, 1745 Wazee Street
Next Stop Brew Company, 925 West Eighth Avenue
Nick's Diner, 3743 Federal Boulevard
The Night Shift Saloon, 3095 South Peoria Street, Aurora
The Oceanaire Seafood Room, 1400 Arapahoe Street
Old Chicago, 1280 South Colorado Boulevard
Old Major, 3316 Tejon Street
The Palm Steakhouse, 1672 Lawrence Street
Paris Crepe, 3926 Tennyson Street
Pasta Pasta Pasta, 185 Fillmore Street
Pete's Greek Town Cafe, 2910 East Colfax Avenue
Periodic Brewing, Leadville and Northglenn locations
Pilothouse Brewing, 4233 South Buckley Road, Aurora
Pour House Pub, 1435 Market Street
Proof Niteclub, 7800 East Hampden Avenue
Punch Bowl Social, 3120 Uintah Street
Racines, 650 Sherman Street
Rialto Cafe, 934 16th Street
Rose’s Classic Americana, Confit and Jacaranda (inside Rosetta Hall), 1109 Walnut Street, Boulder
Rock Bottom Brewery, 14694 Orchard Parkway, Westminster
Rory's Tavern, 404 Broadway
Rubio's Coastal Grill, six metro Denver locations
Sarto's, 2900 West 25th Avenue
Scratch Burrito and Happy Tap, 4262 Lowell Boulevard
Super Mini Walnut Cafe, 2770 Arapahoe Road, Lafayette
Tahona Tequila Bistro, 1035 Pearl Street, Boulder
There..., 3254 Navajo Street
Tom's Diner, 601 East Colfax Avenue
Tony Roma’s, 1480 Arapahoe Street
Uncle Joe's Hong Kong Bistro, 891 14th Street
Vesta, 1822 Blake Street
Via Perla, 901 Pearl Street, Boulder
Village Tavern, 1 West Flatiron Crossing Drive, Broomfield
Yellowbelly, 7450 West 52nd Avenue, Arvada
Zaidy's Deli, 121 Adams Street
Zephyr Lounge, 11940 East Colfax Avenue, Aurora
Zolo Grill, 2525 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder (closing November 25)

Other eateries have announced that they've closed temporarily, with the hope of reopening in 2021. They include:
Brazen, 4450 West 38th Avenue
Broadway Market, 950 Broadway
Casa Bonita, 6715 West Colfax Avenue, Lakewood
Daily Grill, 1607 Wewatta Street
Earnest Hall, 2915 West 44th Avenue
Fork & Spoon, 341 East Colfax Avenue
Mercantile Dining & Provision, 1701 Wynkoop Street
Public School 303, 1959 16th Street
Steuben's Arvada, 7355 Ralston Road, Arvada
The Way Back, 3963 Tennyson Street

Do you know of any closings, whether permanent or temporary, that aren't on this list? Let us know in the comments, or send an email to cafe@westword.com.

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