The Old Spaghetti Factory closed on September 16 at 1215 18th Street, leaving a massive vacancy in the downtown restaurant scene — and an empty spot in our hearts and bellies. What, we wondered, would become of the imposing Denver City Cable Railway building that had been restored by Old Spaghetti Factory founders Guss and Sally Dussin before they opened their Portland, Oregon-based restaurant in 1973? What boring chain eatery could afford to take over the 12,000-square-foot space?
The answer is that it won't be just another boring chain eatery. Instead, San Francisco entrepreneur Steve Fox will open a Denver outpost of Urban Putt, the miniature-golf-themed bar and restaurant he founded in his home town in 2014. Space was a necessity for Urban Putt, which will boast two nine-hole putting courses inside the building, along with a full kitchen and a craft-beer and cocktail bar. This will be only the second location of Fox's entertainment complex, and it will also feature the same kind of unique and clever putting greens that have drawn customers to the San Francisco original.
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Fox's wife and business partner, Leslie Crawford, is a Denver native, so choosing the Mile High City for expansion was an easy decision for the couple. And like the Dussins, Fox and Crawford will be putting a little love into the historic building, erected in 1889, before opening Urban Putt. The arched entryway facing 18th Street was originally far more elaborate than it appears today, but a good portion of the archway collapsed, and its remains became part of the interior decor at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Fox is working with the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission and Roth Sheppard Architects to restore the arch to its original condition before Urban Putt takes over the space in early 2019, with an expected opening date sometime next summer.
Urban Putt will occupy the entire footprint of the former Italian restaurant and will include events space in addition to the putting courses and sit-down dining areas. Other tenants currently occupy second-floor space and additional square footage on the side of the building.
From red sauce to putting greens, the old cable car building will at least continue to attract families to its downtown location.