"It's been a good run and we've had a great time here, but it's just time to move on," says Barb Longo. And so Sunday evening, Longo's Subway Tavern will close...after 52 years.
Barb's been there for 38 of them: She started working at the Subway when she was eighteen and wound up marrying Dave Longo, whose father, Ray, had bought the Subway Tavern when Dave was a kid. Ray added the Longo name to the place, and also added Italian food to its offerings -- including a newfangled thing called pizza.
"The first pizza made in Colorado came out of my oven," says Barb Longo. "Ray Longo also designed the calzone, but we call it a cannoli."
But Ray's gone now, and the neighborhood's changing; another Italian institution, the nearby Pagliacci's, closed its doors last month after 65 years in business. "It's not so fun for us anymore," Barb says. So she and Dave made the decision to sell the place, and once word got out, they had a flurry of offers.
The winner? Larimer Associates, which already owns LoHi SteakBar and Ernie's Pizzeria in the neighborhood, as well as restaurants across town. "Frankly, I still haven't the foggiest idea what we're going to do with it," says Larimer Associates COO Joe Vostrejs. "Our group loves to buy old buildings; we particularly love to buy old buildings on corners in neighborhoods that show every promise of just getting better and better."
And this spot definitely qualifies. "It's going to be one of the new, emerging cool neighborhoods for the city," Vostrejs says, and the proxmity to downtown is unbeatable; LoDo is only minutes away across the viaduct.
The building itself, which got its start in the late 1800s as a market, has its own attractions. "There's a lot of old charm," Vostrejs notes, including a spectacular bar. "We'll peel back the layers so that everyone can see that."
When they took over at Ernie's and Billy's Inn, Larimer Associates retained (or brought back) the original names of the restaurants at the same time they updated the concepts. That could happen at the Subway, too, but Vostrejs won't know for sure until "we get the team together and brainstorm and figure out precisely what we want to do with it," he says. "We do know we're going to put a bunch of money into the building and fix it up, but not so much that we change its neighborhood character; we want to retain as much of that character, as much of that soul, as we can."
The Longos will be hosting an appreciation night for their regulars tonight. And on Sunday, after the Broncos game is over and the last beer drained, the Subway Tavern -- at least the Longo version -- will close its doors for good.
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