MOUTHING OFF

Losses, gains: The football season may be almost over, but in the restaurant business, nothing's ever final. Add to the disabled list the original Ranelle's, at 1313 East Sixth Avenue (the second location at 2390 South Downing closed several months ago). Owner Ranelle Gregory says she's "bittersweet" about selling her place after four years so that she can spend more time with her family; fans of her solid Mediterranean eatery are simply bitter. New owners (Gregory is out as of January 31) Marie and Gunther Nussbaumer say they'll keep the name, menu and much of the staff...but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Another longtime local favorite, Acappella's, at 1336 East 17th Avenue, sports a "Closed for Remodeling" sign, but that's only half the story: Word has it that the cheesesteak master has been sold to the group that owns the testosterone-loaded Mile Hi hangout Brooklyn's at 2644 West Colfax Avenue. Another "Closed for Remodeling" sign appeared at Chateau Pyrenees (6578 South Yosemite Circle in Englewood) last summer, and it must be one heck of a renovation, because the doors are still shut. The rumor is that the owners can't find a buyer.

But the news isn't all bad. Japon is now open at 1028 South Gaylord, after a brief neighborhood battle over its liquor-license application (supporters of the restaurant claim the opposition was racially motivated). One of Japon's owners worked for the upscale Sushi Den across Washington Park at 1487 South Pearl, so expectations are high. And sake is available.

The emphasis is on drinking--although food is available--at two other new establishments. Now open are america, in the Tivoli, which involves a dance floor, a restaurant and the Tivoli Brewery Company, and the Snake Pit, next door to Wax Trax at 608 East 13th Avenue, which also has a dance floor and a sandwiches-and-pizza-heavy menu.

A few already established restaurants are adding hours to drum up more business. Champion Brewing Company, at 1442 Larimer Square, has introduced breakfast from 6:30 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. And Chinook, at 265 Detroit Street in Cherry Creek North, now serves lunch. Maybe earlier in the day Chinook's service will be a little more spritely--and the food fresher. A colleague stopped by for dinner last Monday night and waited a half-hour for the waiter to bring her a glass of wine--which she badly needed after she saw her even tardier entree. The components of the grilled-vegetable plate had been arranged to disguise the fact that the bottom of the veggies were burned to charcoal. Once the blackened items were brought to the manager's attention, she deleted the dish from the bill and offered a complimentary dessert--something flambe, perhaps?--but that hardly assuaged the bad taste left by the slow service. Two days later this same colleague found herself at Enoteca Lodo (1730 Wynkoop), waiting for someone, anyone, to take her drink order. When a server found out she'd been waiting fifteen minutes, he took her order for the $4.50 house Merlot, then advised that her next glass was on him--and that she might want to order something a bit more challenging (and expensive). Now that's a class act.

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Kyle Wagner
Contact: Kyle Wagner