On the night of June 4, 2020, a man walked up to the back of a row of restaurants at Colfax Avenue and Logan Street and started a fire. While the damage inside City Grille, Capitol Pizza and Fork & Spoon was minimal, the fire destroyed the main electrical box outside, shutting off power to the entire row of businesses. Nearly a year later, they're all still closed and without power, but the lights could soon be back on at Fork & Spoon, at 341 East Colfax Avenue, according to the breakfast eatery's manager, Doreen Lobodzinski.
"We were nearly ready to go a couple of weeks ago," she explains, "but then some tweaker decided to break into the electrical box and steal all the copper wiring."
Even before the latest setback, watching the slow progress of repairs was a painful waiting game for Lobodzinski and the restaurant's owner, Chris Dmytrenko. "They're trying to put 2021 wiring into a building that was built in the 1920s," he says.
The permitting process has been drawn out at every step by the pandemic and by current building codes; add to that insurance paperwork and hassles along the way, along with spring delays caused by snowstorms, and it's a wonder the restaurant owner and his manager have stuck it out. But pending a final walkthrough from Xcel Energy, according to Lobodzinski, she and Dmytrenko are ready to open, and they're hoping to have customers back at tables this month.
But first they'll need to bring back staff or hire and train new employees, so the expectation is to have a soft opening initially — almost as if they were opening a new restaurant altogether. "The goal is to get them all back," Dmytrenko says of Fork & Spoon's employees. "It's wishful thinking, but that's what I'd like to see."
Fork & Spoon opened in June 2014, and Dmytrenko took over a year later. Since then, the eatery has built a customer base of regulars who come in for simple breakfast dishes like the Politician (two eggs, potatoes and toast) or the Easy Does It (scrambled eggs, cheese and bacon or sausage on a housemade biscuit). But Capitol Hill neighbors also love the chicken and waffles, the chorizo breakfast tacos and the hefty breakfast burritos.
Lobodzinski says the plan is to try and open seven days a week after the soft opening, with hours of 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.
As for the rest of the business on the stretch (which is owned by the Archdiocese of Denver), we haven't heard back from Capitol Pizza, but Nancy Brady, co-owner of CityGrille at 321 East Colfax Avenue, says she thinks that eatery will be able to reopen soon, too. Along with the stolen wiring and year-long loss of business, she's also had to contend with break-ins at her restaurant.
"Nothing's easy, is it?" she says. "The work is continuing, and hopefully within the month we'll be able to reopen."
This story was updated on May 7 to include comments regarding CityGrille.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.