That lease comes with a lot of history: The restaurant got its start in the '30s, serving food to hard-rock miners and other mountain folk at least forty years before the Hard Rock chain got its start in 1971. And there's absolutely no connection between this restaurant and the Hard Rock Cafe down on the 16th Street Mall -- except a lawsuit that's also now a part of history.
As part of that suit's resolution, the town of Empire is not allowed to advertise the eatery outside of Colorado. But that's not a major problem, since most of the clientele consists of locals and travelers headed up Highway 40 from I-70 -- between 2.7 and 3 million cars a year, according to mayor Wendy Koch.
"We are the original Hard Rock Cafe," she points out. And the place comes not just with that admirable customer base, but an actual spot on the National Historic Register, as well as a lovely sun deck overlooking the valley....and all those cars that could be carrying patrons your way.
Interested in getting a piece of the rock? Contact Empire town clerk Jennifer Cade at 303-569-2978 between 8:30 a.m. and noon Monday through Friday.