Beer Man

Old Chicago will close its longtime Denver flagship on Market Street next week

Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom on Market Street, which was one of the first places to serve microbrews in downtown Denver and has acted as the unofficial gateway to LoDo since 1992, will close its doors on March 29.

The company, owned by Tennessee-based Craftworks Restaurants since 2010, is looking for another, smaller location in the neighborhood that will better suit the rebranded look that the chain implemented last year at its restaurants nationwide.

See also: Old Chicago adds new words to its name and dishes to its menu: Try its five-foot pie today!

A spokesman for Craftworks didn't return a call seeking comment, but employees at the restaurant confirmed that the location will close a week from Saturday.

The two-story, 6,000-square-foot building is owned by a holding company managed by Evan Makovsky, who is also the co-owner of Shames Makovsky real estate company.

Dorit Makovsky Fischer, a broker at the firm, is looking for new tenants for the building, which includes wide-open spaces upstairs that could be used for offices. There is also a 2,000-square-foot attached building that Old Chicago used for special events.

"It's a big space. We don't see restaurants of that size very often," she says. "But it's a great location...the entry to downtown Denver and we believe there could be some great uses. We really want to think outside the box. It could be pretty cool."

Shames Makovsky has already received interest from other restaurant operators.

"We'll miss Old Chicago," she adds. "But this is an opportunity for the city and for Market Street to do something great there."

A real estate agent representing Old Chicago didn't return a phone call seeking comment about where the chain might want to open a new location nearby.

Old Chicago was founded by restaurant entrepreneur Frank Day, who opened the first location in Boulder in 1976; Day also founded the Rock Bottom brewery chain in Colorado. Both brands are now owned by Craftworks.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes