The 9th Door has long been a part of the LoDo bar and restaurant scene, taking advantage of its proximity to Coors Field since opening in 2005 at 1808 Blake Street. But the tapas bar closed on Friday, April 27, and will undergo a quick transformation before reopening as a new concept under chef/restaurateur Sheamus Feeley.
The 9th Door added a second location at 925 Lincoln Street in 2013, but that one has been independently owned for the past year, ever since Brian Murphy bought the restaurant. Murphy says his 9th Door is doing well, and he has no intention of closing anytime soon. "If anything, it will alleviate any confusion," he explains, adding that his goal has been to differentiate his eatery by focusing on the quality and authenticity of his Spanish tapas menu.
Feeley has been working in Denver on and off for the past twenty years, having first moved here to work as a line cook at the now-closed Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe at Denver Pavilions (where Hosea Rosenberg was a co-worker and Jennifer Jasinski was his boss). He helped open Mateo in Boulder before moving to California and joining the Hillstone Restaurant Group, eventually becoming executive chef and vice president for the company. It was in that role that Feeley was able to move back to Colorado, where he recently formed Sheamus Feeley Restaurant Group with business partner Angela Neri.
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Sheamus Feeley Restaurant Group acts as a consultant for other restaurants (including La Loma and its new sibling, Siera) as well as operating several of its own eateries internationally. Feeley says it's too early to announce the name of the restaurant moving into the downtown 9th Door space, but that he's aiming for a July opening. Among the company's concepts are Pony Up, the Foreigner and Ugly American, according to the SFRG website, so it could be one of those, or it could be something new.
"For me, Denver is the best city in the United States — especially in our industry," Feeley notes. "We just want to add to the dialogue of what's already happening. And we've got a really good building with good bones."
Whatever ends up opening in the space, it's right across the street from the new Dairy Block development, which has several projects in the works, including a food hall called Milk Market, from another Denver chef/restaurateur, Frank Bonanno. While public focus has shifted away from the block in recent years in favor of the nearby RiNo district, new bars and restaurants could soon attract a whole new audience to the area.